Elysium

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So here comes the movie which I have been waiting for, since the day it released in the United States, and then again starting another big wait from the day in released in the United Kingdom. This was also the movie I was looking forward to watch in 2013, after Pacific Rim. Other than the presence of Matt Damon, the other interesting thing about this movie was what was told in the brief summary associated with it, and surely that name. The name was quite familiar in relation to some of the stories related to Greek mythology which I had come across during my childhood. Yes, that varied vision of paradise had left a mark, and here is that name revisited through this movie, not as what comes after afterlife, but all the same which are enjoyed during this life. The movie is set in 2154, when a group of wealthy people left the Earth after coming to know that their kind had destroyed the planet with greed and lavishness. With all the resources that remained on Earth, they created Elysium, a luxurious space station just outside the planet’s orbit to live a life free of disease and pollution. The lived a life of comfort assisted by robots and superior medical care, while the people of Earth were made to live on a devastated land, policed by robots sent from Elysium and deprived of their rights.

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) is a former criminal on parole working in Armadyne, the same company which built Elysium. But he is exposed to lethal radiation during an accident and is left with just five days to live. All is not well in Elysium either, as Elysian Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a mercenary on her payroll, Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to shoot down civilian shuttles full of illegal immigrants trying to make it to the city of their dreams. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) condemns her action on the basis of human rights which leads to a cold war between the two. As Jessica looks forward to having more power and keeping it, makes a deal with Armadyne’s CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner) to create a program that can shut down, reboot and override Elysium’s central computer in order to make her the new President. Carlyle creates the program in his office on Earth, encrypts it and uploads it to his brain so that he could take it back to Elysium for secret deployment. With the help of his friend Julio (Diego Luna), Max seeks help from a skilled smuggler Spider (Wagner Moura) to go to Elysium and get cured, to which Spider asks for Max to steal some information from Carlyle. He agrees, and supported by an enforced exoskeleton, he goes on a mission which could change the life of a lot of people.

Coming from Neill Blomkamp who gave us District 9, this movie is somewhat a let-down, and it struggles to keep its standard as high as that wonderful flick. Still, it is certain that the base of both of these movies are the same, and both deals with somewhat the same issue, which is the difference between the oppressor and the oppressed, the privileged and the under-privileged, the powerful and the subaltern. The 2009 movie had aliens coming to Earth and living on the planet only to become second-rate citizens, while our 2013 movie has humans going to a space station and making the rest of their kind second-rate citizens or rather the lesser species – almost the same thing. The protagonist is from the subaltern group this time though. Both are about the horrible divide between people, sometimes about the rich and the poor, and otherwise racial or ethnic in nature. The evil of the multinational corporations as well as the government funded policing of groups which are different in some way or the other, also exists. Elysium makes a good attempt to carry on that idea of divide which formed the skeleton of District 9, and adds more elements of science fiction and powers it using the expensive fuel of post-apocalyptic fiction which sells, and in the process it hurts the inner core.

This is undoubtedly Matt Damon’s movie, and one has to doubt it would have worked this well without him. In the dystopic future where Earth has become nothing more than a big slum of devastated towers and a collection of small ghettos. He plays a former criminal who wishes to go to Elysium so that he could save his own life, but later he transforms into something more, as the saviour of not only his friend’s daughter, but also of millions who can’t afford the riches of the new first world. He is a confused revolutionary and a saviour who doesn’t decide his change, but rather it happens to him. He becomes what the nun who raised him had told him when he was a child – for he became someone special, an act which is supported by flashbacks which works, but not the way the audience might have wanted. This might be his best performance since the first three movies in the Bourne series. The character should have done better with a little more attention to his thoughts and change rather than just making him change as if it was there in him since childhood. Surely, he could have had more to work with, and this movie’s overuse of brain has seriously worked against the character of Max, which could have been drawn from another level.

I am rather surprised that Jodie Foster is not the main villain in the movie, as I thought this was going to be her wonderful performance in the form of another great villain, from what it seemed in the trailer. We wanted that villain, and in the beginning stages of the movie, we also get the feeling that it is how it is going to be. It is a shame that she doesn’t impress at all this time. But there would be Sharlto Copley rather than Jodie in a performance which is quite strange even though good. But this is one character who shouldn’t have had this much screen presence even as the man seems to live in the character and keep it a level above most of the movie. In a movie which is something more than a science fiction, this is not the main villain we want, for this is a more suitable secondary villain character. The need for a more powerful in intellect and yet normal in muscular strength villain was there, and this need is not fulfilled. Its good to see Alice Braga after her last action movie Predators, to which I hope there will be a sequel. She plays the childhood friend of Max, and the one who has a deep impact on him. Despite the smaller screen presence, she makes a very good impact. William Fichtner could have made a great major villain, but his character dies too early for us to get a glimpse of a possible evil. He still symbolizes the corporate evil, the power of the multi-national entities which became inter-planetary entities.

There is action and there is the hidden theme of the lack of humanity and the division between humans. But the action is mostly of inferior quality and the social message is not that powerful as one would expect to. I would consider Oblivion a far better flick intellectually, and District 9 a far more effective movie with its social message. As far as entertainment is considered this won’t be a Star Trek: Into Darkness nor a Prometheus visually. Elysium is another one of those escapist fantasies for sure, but its bridge towards the social message is not that much a perfectly crafted link. Another factor should be that of blood and gore which comes in abundance here, and gets itself an adult certificate with the same, but still doesn’t manage to do it well enough. One has to applaud the visuals though, as the world of Elysium as well as that of Earth are well-detailed, and the robots as well as the flying machines are well-designed and works very fine. The action sequences are lesser, but still not too exaggerated. The movie’s confusion about where it belongs is clearly reflected in all those things which happen throughout its own little world. One has to applaud the idea, but still be confused about its effect on oneself, and how to think about this movie. The emotion couldn’t be felt deep enough, and my friend had recommended a seventy three for this, but I thought I should add a little more to the rating.

While the movie drags a bit, and keeps itself in a loop in which it gently repeats itself, there is still enough in its soul to keep us interested and make a good influence. The only movie of this year to which the action of this movie can be compared is World War Z; yes not to Oblivion which had another post-apocalyptic world with a supposed colony of humans in another place as Earth has gone down due to many forces of destruction (a theory which is proved wrong in a twist of fate which is found later). This drags like World War Z and gets the loop working as the same movie. This could have done with a better route in the script, and Jodie Foster as a different, but still the major villain. It is sad that all the potential had this movie only up-to this level – no, I am still glad to have watched this movie, but this should have been a great work on the screen, but it has missed that opportunity, and that is kind of saddening. May be they could have stuck to one thing in this movie rather than making it a masala social message, or may be there could have been a better balance; I wouldn’t be sure, but let me tell you that I was hoping to come out ready to give an eighty to eighty nine for this movie out of hundred, and seventy seven is a disappoint if we look at it that way.

Release date: 27th September 2013 (India); 21st August 2013 (UK)
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Alice Braga, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Tremblay, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Valentina Giros, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Warning

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There are only two Hindi movies which I have watched on the first day, first show in a multiplex. The first one was Aurangzeb, and the second one is this movie. This is also the first Hindi movie and the second Indian movie which I am watching in 3D, and there are n prizes for guessing which was the first, for it was the first 3D movie from South India as well as from India. Did this movie deserve my attention? Well, I thought that this was going to be India’s answer to Jaws or Deep Blue Sea. But later, it was revealed that this one is more of an Open Water inspired flick. But while watching the movie, it clicked that this was mostly Open Water 2: Adrift. So, there was the need to watch India’s first underwater 3D thriller a.k.a the first of possible shark movies in the future. The reasons to go for the first show were many, but I have to be clear about something, which is the fact that this is surely more entertaining than Open Water 2: Adrift, but I wouldn’t use the word “better”, for that is highly debatable. I would recommend this with confidence for those who haven’t watched the original. Well, I watched this one for a ticket worth eighty rupees and this is more than just worth that money. Forget the critics who are going to bash this one, my dear friends, just know that we need this movie, and we need variety.

Yes, they are obviously not right about this one, or may be they have their own personal reasons for not liking it, but from a neutral point of view, this is a copy which has been well recreated. If we make a comparison to that original, that may have had other things for support including being more realistic and being the first one to come to light, this one has entertainment, and some surprisingly above average performance from the cast who are quite unknown for me. It looked like they had tried very well. From an unbiased viewpoint, what does one expect from a movie like this, and what is there that this movie doesn’t provide? There is no denying the fact that there might not have been this movie without the original, and there are no big surprises added to the same except for some typical Bollywood melodrama. The movie is thrilling, and engaging throughout. My dear cynics, please try to find the positives, and the name of the movie is not Open Sea 2, its Open Water 2, as I have noticed that mistake in some of the reviews, so if you are going to watch the original, please don’t remain misinformed and search for Open Water or Open Water 2: Adrift.

I have never been that much of a fan of Open Water franchise as I was the fan of Jaws and Deep Blue Sea. But Warning surely keeps the common man interested. There can be the typical argument that there is nothing that really happens except for them staying in water for most of the time, and the most probable theory that there is not much added to the original. Well, let me tell you a few things, Zinda was a fine little brother of Oldboy and the Malayalam movie Cocktail was a good twin brother to Butterfly on a Wheel, even as the Prithviraj starrer Anwar couldn’t be a good brother to Traitor even as there is an attempt to create a difference and be a worthy brother. In that case, Warning is a very good brother to Open Water 2: Adrift, and may be the bigger of the two twin brothers. So what should I do more? Should I go to 1579 and get the much needed blessings from Philip Sidney writing An Apology for Poetry and do the same for this movie if and only if this movie doesn’t get the attention as the harbinger of change into Indian movie industry? Or should I be Alexander Pope or John Dryden and cast a web of support poetry for this work which no spider has managed to weave even in its most gigantic form?

May be I shall go back to 1821 and meet Percy Bysshe Shelley instead. Well, lets not deny the fact that the Vampire Bat belongs to all ages, but that age of literature is far gone now, and he is just a nocturnal creature who doesn’t own a time machine. Now he stands before this movie called Warning, which deserved a better first day first show in the multiplexes than just a few people sitting on the corners of the small world of what they called Screen Nine. Did our movie lose out in marketing, I would wonder. No, this doesn’t have adult-rated comments or bed-room scenes which seems to be necessary these days, but it does have guys who remain shirtless, and women in bikinis. Well, the viewers need that, and no wonder Phata Poster Nikhla Hero is having a tough time compared to the movies like Grand Masti. Well, Warning has its own skin show, but none of them desperate enough and thus keeps the adult certificate away. It has a group of good looking people among its cast, and the best thing is that they can act too. I might have missed this one for Elysium which released here on the same day, and I guess I shall end up having watched both.

Gunjan Dutta (Madhurima Tulli), Anshul Chobey (Varun Sharma), Sabina Sanyal (Manjari Fadnis), Aman Puri (Sumit Suri), Taranjit Bakshi (Santosh Barmola), Deepak Sharma (Jitin Gulati) and Jeanine Getaux (Susana Rodrigues) are the seven friends who are having some great moments on a yacht in Fiji as part of a get-together. Deepak is Sabina’s husband and Jeanine is Taran’s girlfriend who remains the eye candy for the group much to the jealousy of Gunjan, and the only married couple has brought their baby daughter Sara with them. As the guys follow the girls into water in the middle of nowhere in the sea, Taran throws Sabina into the sea to get rid of her fear for being in water along with jumping himself, not before pushing the button to lower the stairs into the water. But is then known that his friend had already pushed the button for bringing the stairs down and himself pushing on it has brought it up instead. They are caught in the water with only a dog left on board which also jumps into water as a result of their attempt to catch its attention. Gunjan tries to stand on their shoulders and climb up, and they also try making a rope with their clothes and sending her up, but she falls down to cause injury, the blood bringing the attention of sharks, as the baby cries from the yacht.

The movie’s cast is basically about the seven people who are stranded in water, and even as they are not familiar faces, all of them has performed fine considering the situation which they are up against. Suzana Rodrigues is the undisputed eye candy, and even as Manjari Fadnis seems to be the typical character who gets all the attention, it is Madhurima Tuli who has the more significant roles to perform, along with staying pretty and gorgeous throughout. She looks particularly good with that short hair cut. She is the one who makes the first attempt to safety and she herself is chosen for the next, and it is her who takes that risk of being dead or saving them all just before the final moments of the movie. In many ways, her character is more dynamic than all the others out there, and one might have to say the same thing about beauty. The cinematography is incredibly beautiful and there is the lovely Fiji right before your eyes after what you saw in 3G and Table No. 21. The 3D is also fine even as the need for the same is questioned on some occasions, but there is no question about the beauty of the visual imagery that is generated, as well as on the music and the songs.

So what can we make of the title Warning? There is no real warnings given out in the movie, and so we can conclude that it is more about being warned about those people who shall intentionally give negative reviews about this movie. Warning is a tale of survival which was never tried in Bollywood, and it has to appreciated for the efforts so that some better and original ideas shall come up later. We have approved Go Goa Gone, and it is time we give scope for the other genres which are unknown to this part of the world. This is the time to get rid of the stupid masala action movies, adult comedy entertainers and ridiculous romantic retardness and grow up to variety which needs some imitation in the beginning which can later be developed into original ideas. It is shot in an amazing manner underwater and there is suspense built slowly and steadily, and it has done its duty to the original. Yes, we can blame its predictability, and most of us know the story already, but this movie is a welcome change as well as welcoming change, and if we deny it the right to be a success, we bombard ourselves with typical romantic bullshit, adult comedy and masala action, and in a few years, we will have only ourselves to blame for nonstop nonsense.

Release date: 27th September 2013
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Gurmmeet Singh
Starring: Madhurima Tuli, Manjari Fadnis, Santosh Barmola, Suzana Rodrigues, Varun Sharma, Jitin Gulati, Sumit Suri

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Phata Poster Nikla Hero

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Even as the comedy movies are not having a good time these days and I have been mostly against them with the exception of Go Goa Gone, this one comes from the same person who had earlier directed Andaz Apna Apna, and so it was to be watched also because it had positive reviews from a good number of people whom I trusted. No, I don’t like Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, and so lets leave it out of this. Watching the Malayalam movie Sringaravelan worked completely against that idea though, and delayed the procedure even further with the reminder of the horror that a comedy movie can be. But the need to watch a movie featuring Ileana D’Cruz came up, and as most of the people did in last year, I didn’t watch Barfi nor did I watch Nanban, which made this movie closer to a must-watch. To add to it, the trailer was pretty good too, considering the standards which one expect from a mindless comedy movie. No, the movie doesn’t live up-to the trailer as it is not a fun riot throughout as it mixes things. Well, its mixed reviews are justified for sure, as the film raises its bar as a comedy movie which is not for one age group or just a generation of viewers, even as it never reaches that high level of something which is to be remembered for a long time.

If this movie was to raise the bar high enough, this review was to feature an interview with Count Dracula himself, but as it didn’t do that well enough, Dracula has to stay with just one interview provided (moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/hotel-transylvania/‎) and this won’t be the time for the second. The movie starts very well if we look at it, but it loses most of its strength in the second half, and the use of sentiments and there is that little more action which is more than needed, that doesn’t really help the cause. The movie is a breeze throughout the first half, and a disoriented wind in the second half. The movie required more comedy too, even as most of the existing funny lines surely work. With this movie with a title that is literally translated as Poster Rips Open And Out Comes Hero, there was a lot more possible. This could have been the best comedy movie of the year in any language from India if it had taken over from the base which was set in the first half, but unfortunately it trails to its own early half. Still, it doesn’t lose its path completely, as it holds on and on to the mindlessness and provides us with something which looks more like a parody at times, but is still funny enough.

The movie has a simple story if not the simplest of the age. There is nothing complicated in a young man from a village, Vishwas Rao (Shahid Kapoor) who hopes to become a big superstar by gaining a leading role in a movie. He is raised by his mother (Padmini Kolhapure) by driving an auto-rickshaw, hoping that her son will grow up to be a Police Inspector and beat up the evil guys, restoring order to a world lacking in righteousness and truth. She hopes that through her son, there will be justice which was destroyed by her own husband who was a corrupt police officer until the moment of his death. As Vishwas tries to make it to the big screen, his mother tries even more to make him a police officer, but he retaliates by depicting himself as unfit in front of those who conduct the tests. As he is called to Mumbai as the last chance for a police job, he goes there happily and tries his luck in the movies instead. But as a he comes up against a social-worker Kajal (Ileana D’Cruz) who confuses him as a police officer and he is pitted against the gangs of the city. He accidently catches another thief, and he hesitates to tell the truth as he falls for her slowly, but steadily.

The arrival of his mother who thinks that he is a police officer, also complicates the situation. He gets his aspiring actor friends to help him in the life-time acting of the police officer and even convinces the police commisioner to act so that he can help his mother. He is forced to save those who were vacated by goons due to his mother forcing him, and then again Kajal makes him raid a dance bar, an act which saves a number of women and exposes a lot of black money. The result is that the underworld don Gundappa (Saurabh Shukla) and the corrupt inspector Ghorpade (Zakir Hussain) on his payroll comes to consider him as a serious threat to their business and begins a big search for him. There are talks about an international criminal nicknamed Napolean and a dangerous terrorist mission known as the White Elephant, but at the same time, the police commissioner comes to stay near the place where our hero and his mother are staying, which adds to his woes, as he tries hard to keep his mask of the non-corrupt police officer on his face. Now, the hero has to become the real-life star rather than the big-screen star.

This is Shahid Kapoor’s favourite performance as I am concerned. I haven’t been his fan, but I liked his performances in 36 China Town and Fida. This is the first time that I have seen his performance which is fully comic in character, and there is no doubt that he has done the best among the actors. The best scenes include those when he meets Salman Khan when with his future love, and the dialogues with the police commissioner. He gets some good funny lines as expected. Yes, Salman Khan does make a cameo in this movie as himself, and Nargis Fakhri is there for an item dance which is more of a stage performance. Ileana D’Cruz looks lovely and dazzling throughout the movie, even as her character seems to make regular attempts to look cute and stupid, and turns incredibly gorgeous in the songs. Talking about the songs, it has to be said that they spring out of nowhere, like the demons of The Conjuring, but we get to see Shahid Kapoor at his stylish best and Ileana D’Cruz with serene beauty. The songs are undoubtedly forced on the movie, just like the climax. Ileana has her best lines in the beginning and the end, and in between, she has not much to outside the songs, alone.

As I had mentioned earlier, Ileana D’Cruz is the main reason why I stumbled upon this movie, and I have to say that she is part of my list of favourite actresses in Bollywood, even though I should have been familiar with her movies from the movie industry of the South, which I am not, just in her case. One fact about her character is that it is both a stupid as well as a lovable one – all the characters of the movie are pretty much stupid for sure, except for Padmini Kolhapure’s mother character. Ileana’s character has used that stupidity to perfection though, as she plays the lady who is nicknamed Complaint Kajal for the large number of complaints which she files in the police station for various reasons. It is a character who is supposed to be so, and Ileana’s portrayal of the same makes her instantly likable. Her portrayal of the character is second only to the hero’s performance. The name Ileana, having its own Greek origins, meaning “of Troy”, derived from the Greek name Helen, and here too, the origins are quite justified, as she remains the most beautiful side of the movie, even as no wars were fought on her name.

Padmini Kolhapure plays a good, righteous mother perfectly, as its been a long time since I saw her on the big screen, as I missed the Hamlet inspired Malayalam movie Karmayogi in which she is supposed to have been a part of. The other actors have also did their part well enough to entertain us. The best thing about this movie is that there is no humour of bad taste or bad words which keep the families away, and there is nothing of adult jokes which some of the movies of this age uses when the makers run out of ideas. There is also assertion of truth and righteousness and in the end it is asserted that being a hero in real life is better than being a fake hero in the big screen, an idea which lightens up what seems to be an otherwise inferior end to what seemed to be coming in the first half. This weaker second half could have been boosted to make this movie a better treat, but for now, lets adjust with what we have here. This is a movie which you can watch without thinking much, and you can give your brain a rest. I could watch this one for just rupees fifty and this is more than just worth it. Watch this one for the Helen of Troy that is Ileana D’Cruz, the charming stylish Greek hero that is Shahid Kapoor, and all the fun which has a hidden goodness element – forget the plot and leave your brains behind though.

Release date: 20th September 2013
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Rajkumar Santoshi
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, Padmini Kolhapure, Darshan Jariwala, Saurabh Shukla, Sanjay Mishra, Zakir Hussain, Mukesh Tiwari, Rana Jung Bahadur, Deepika Kamaiah, Tinnu Anand, Nargis Fakhri (cameo), Salman Khan (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Ezhamathe Varavu

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Do you have nostalgia about the old Malayalam movies or do you feel nostalgic very often and feels that the Malayalam movies have degraded a lot and the effect of the new generation movies has not been that good? Do you feel that Malayalam movies should go back and be inspired from a former golden age of movie history or at least appreciate that age which was undoubtedly a memorable one? If the answer of these questions is yes, this is a movie you should watch and this is a review you should read. Otherwise, I would suggest that you return to what you were doing before falling into this ocean of nostalgia instead of poking your nose at a place which is not good for the kind of move loving soul which you have. The movie hasn’t done that well as it should have, and it reveals the lack of nostalgia around or rather the inability to sell this nostalgic feeling due to that horrible change which the audience has undergone with the rise of new generation movies and that mindless entertainer power which has cast a shadow on the beautiful woods of nostalgia. If you haven’t left this page yet, I suggest you reclaim it with this movie.

The film’s script which was written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair in the 1970s and was filmed by Hariharan himself with Sukumaran playing the role of the major antagonist, a role which has been passed on to his son with this new version. But as we have heard about it, the older version of the movie didn’t get released. So this remake of the Sukumaran-Venu Nagavally starrer Evideyo Oru Shatru has Indrajith-Vineeth combination instead. The movie might seem a little bit old generation for the liking of most of the people, but one thing that most of the viewers have to keep in mind is that in spite of all the changes that has come upon the world, may be with laptops, mobiles and tablets taking over what was to be their absence, the environment remains the same. The story of the subaltern undergoes no significant change as a whole, no matter how much the man can claim to have improved and changed their attitude towards their fellow beings. Another thing is that there will always be something in this world that humanity shall never understand, and it is supernatural, either divine or devilish.

But the movie doesn’t follow the path of the older movies with exaggeration or overdose of any element. Yes, there is one good man who comes into a forest with tribals around, and finds his former lover as the wife of the evil man who has control over the lands; and he tries to protect both a young tribal girl as well as the environment from the eyes of the man-devil – a plot which has been used for ages. In this remake, there is a certain amount of realism which has been added for sure, and even during this age of disgusting relationships, the plot remains striking enough. All of the characters are simple ones who doesn’t make a big mess around. None of them try to be heroic and try something which is too unexpected of them, and they stick to the stereotypes of the earlier ages, but carries over the impact which they would have created at that time, to this age which has no fixed quality in its movies. Hariharan and M T Vasudevan Nair have indeed created another beauty in the form of Ezhamathe Varavu, literally translated as The Seventh Coming and not to be confused with the Tamil movie Ezham Arivu.

Our story follows the path of an archeologist, Prasad (Vineeth) who has reached the forests of Wayanad, in an attempt to find the remains of a kingdom which is supposed to have existed in the area which now stands in the wilderness. As he tries to find helpers for the cause, he comes across a simple and innocent tribal girl Maala (Kavitha Nair) who helps him with the forest and its people. He lives in the mansion of Gopi (Indrajith Sukumaran) a rich planter and land owner of the area. Gopi is a wife-beating ego-maniac, heavy drinker, womaniser and a self-proclaimed expert in hunting. He is ruthless in getting what he wants, and always look forward to asserting his wishes on others. He also comes across his former lover Bhanu (Bhavana) who is married to the same man, but has turned out as an alcoholic due to his behaviour towards her. Meanwhile, a tiger makes frequent visits to the tribal village, claiming people during regular intervals. Gopi sets out to kill the animal for the thrills along with having his eyes set on Mala, while Bhanu gets closer to Prasad. But the tiger seems to succeed more despite of the efforts of Gopi and the villagers. What happens next shall end a few lives and change the others.

Indrajith Sukumaran plays the antagonist of the movie, and still wins the round for souls with another performance of brilliance which he carries over from his awesomeness in the movie Left Right Left. To be frank, he is the biggest reason why we had rushed to the theatre despite the number of shows being reduced to one. He portrays that dark shade of a hunter, a predator of no regret with such beauty that one would begin to wonder if anything could be worth missing watching such villainy. Vineeth plays the exact opposite, the side of the light, as the man who decided to give up his love for her own good, along with loving poetry as well as the symphony of the forest along with history. He seems to be in a familiar territory, as he progresses which ease, as a model archaeologist, a great lover of history and a big admirer of poems. Bhavana plays her character with ease and a certain amount of serenity, but Kavitha Nair has more screen presence as the symbol of innocence, the beautiful tribal girl whom the landlord has his eyes set on. The simplicity and the innocence of the newcomer’s portrayal of the girl is sure to have a long lasting influence on the viewers.

There is also the presence of some beautiful music, as we go back in time to the love story of Prasad and Bhanu, but the more touching one would be the song by Maala who is portrayed on screen by Kavitha Nair with such lack of blemish and so much of simple innocence that there is an instant liking that the audience develops with the character. As she is ravished by the predator of the human world and the revenge is half-done, the rest is taken over by the nature, or the symbol of the tribal beliefs or rather the vehicle of the Goddess whichever way the poetic justice prevails, more in a divine manner rather than anything else. If there is an outdated feeling at any point, the more appropriate word would be antiquity, and deserving an excavation as well as a mind which supports the same. What everyone can be sure about is that the evil is punished, and even in the suffering, the good finally survives, may be to thrive later. The possible pessimism which could have fallen into this movie is averted due to the use of the old formula, as the thrills, love as well as the vengeance is well balanced and well thrown on screen.

The movie’s hold on traditions, customs as well as the beliefs is also worth mentioning, as we wonder what the tiger actually depict, as William Blake had written as a part of his collection Songs of Experience in 1794; “Tiger, tiger, burning bright, In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies, Burnt the fire of thine eyes”? Yes, we are talking about the visual experience here, for the vision of the burning eyes of the tiger in the darkness comes before the first display of the majestic creature. It is the creature which delivers the final judgement, from the nature itself, for the man who loved nature and the woman who was part of nature. So that adds to this visually superior movie which you can blame for having a predictable plot, and for lacking in mass masala qualities. You can cry about it dragging a bit. But you can never avoid this one, and let me tell you one thing, that this is still a faster movie than Annayum Rasoolum by kilometres and kilometres. Think about it – nostalgia; don’t you need it more than a little?

Release date: 15th September 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Hariharan
Starring: Vineeth, Indrajith Sukumaran, Bhavana, Kavitha Nair, Mamukkoya, Nandhu, Suresh Krishna, Koottickal Jayachandran, Captain Raju

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

2 Guns

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There was the need for an oasis of action among the movies of this Onam, among which none of them was of the much needed action genre, even as at least half of the Malayalam movies of this Onam season were very good. Yes, 2 Guns released here yesterday only, and I have to say that it has been delayed quite a bit, and should be glad to have released this week, as a few others like Elysium are still waiting and waiting, and Grown Ups 2 had its chance only the last Friday. The winner of this weekend should still be the Malayalam movie Sringaravelan, and the word of mouth should be in completely in favour of North 24 Kaatham. As both this day and the next are public holidays, most of these movies should have a good time, also expecting the last days of Onam holidays to boost up the revenue a lot. 2 Guns is one of the five English movies still in the theatres this week, along with Rush, The Conjuring, Grown Ups 2 and Riddick. The advantage of 2 Guns is its star cast and the fact that none of these movies actually rival this one in its genre, even as Riddick is only partially a sci-fi movie.

Now we come to the idea of the buddy-cop comedy movies among which the most known and the most popular might be the Rush Hour series with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker making the most out of it. I would still wonder if Men in Black can come into the same category, and R.I.P.D. and The Heat hasn’t landed here yet. I shall not look into the older movies either. 2 Guns has landed in this area, but still quite unsure if it is an action comedy or comedy action, as it gets quite serious on regular intervals unlike Rush Hour‘s ever-improving funny side. I would guess that this one won’t do that good business here, even as this is the festival-vacation season, with families, the strength of this season expected to pull out of it completely. The hope might be about The Conjuring scaring people out of the theatres and Rush confusing them away. It has the same certificate as Grown Ups 2 and Riddick, and it would depend on how much the star name of Mark Wahlberg will sell around here, with the recently popular R-rated comedy Ted and Max Payne of the computer gamers’ paradise, even as both of them hadn’t released here.

The movie tells the tale of two criminals who turn out to be on the other side of the law later; Robert Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) as the former is an undercover DEA agent and the latter an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer; both of them thinks that the other one is a criminal though. But their attempt to steal the money of Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) from a bank ends them in trouble, as they end up losing both the money as well as blowing their cover. Trench’s lover Deb Rees (Paula Patton) who knew about all these also seems to be on another side which they are not aware about. They have to run from more than one group who is after them, which leaves them with no choice but to work together, this time knowing each other’s identity. They even try kidnapping the drug lord, but that too misfires. So the question will be on who will shoot whom, sided with which person and who will get the large amount of stolen money in a world of treachery and complete chaos which follows the fall of two men from their respective forces.

So what do we get? There is one thing we can be sure about, that is lots of fun and action. There are lots of gunshots involved as expected, but not that much of melee combat. The hand-to-hand combat takes the backseat as the guns take over. These kind of movies seem to make sure that there are also a good number of funny lines, and this one is no exception in that case, and one thing which this movie does by its own is making sure that Paula Patton is gorgeous, which is accomplished by just two scenes; that should be new as one wonders if she was there more for those two occasions only (not denying her character the double-crossing), as she doesn’t really get much screen presence compared to her tough role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. But she is still our dazzling lady in the lead, with not many others around who are there for more than five minutes. What the movie does is nothing not too obvious, and nothing close to being a normal logical story. We still know what might happen next, even as what we know is not really what should be happening without a willing suspension of disbelief. There is not that much power to strengthen the plot either, even as there is the sincere effort to keep it not that simple.

Mark Wahlberg steals the show, and there is absolutely no reason why someone would think otherwise, unless Paula Patton’s moments which contributed to the movie’s rating steals the same for a few seconds. Even as the critics didn’t give that much to his Planet of the Apes and Max Payne, I would say that those were my favourites from him along with Ted, without denying The Italian Job and Shooter their due and this won’t add to it. He comes up with the funniest lines of the movie, and if a character was to bring cheers from the audience, it was his, as the chicken-eating, chicken-loving man who can’t bear to see the chickens being tortured. The last time I watched a Denzel Washington movie was Unstoppable, if not The Book of Eli. He is there for almost the same time as his partner, but a little lesser in impact compared to the Mark Wahlberg show. Even with their jokes as well as the seriousness, it has to be said that this movie goes to none of their top ten list, except for that of Paula Patton. The two cop characters won’t be in any all-time list, and that is one thing we can be pretty much confident about. They shall still stay alive and out of the coffin as long as the fans are concerned.

The movie is violent for sure, and there are lots of blood, along with some of the violence as well as the dialogues, nothing unexpected though. Well, this is one of those movies which you feel longer than what it really is, as the almost-two-hours of action comedy makes you feel like you have been in the theatre a little longer, and that is due to its moments of no fun which exists. But when Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington are together, there is more fun guaranteed, and luckily they stay together most of the time. They are surely not going to make you love this genre though. But not many of the regular movie watchers can avoid these two actors together, a rare combination which has such a huge potential which is only partially fulfilled. Based on a graphic novel series of the same name, the movie strives inside its limited scope, with the big names which it has associated with. This is a movie which you can watch without thinking, expecting or hoping.

By the end of the movie, there are only a few things that you are sure about, and the more sad side of it is that Paula Patton’s character is dead, and in the distant possibility of a sequel, she won’t be there, and the happy side is that there is the scope for sequel, not just because of the ending, but also due to the way in which the movie has progressed and also considering the fact that people in the theatre did seem to love it upto an extent. This entertainment is something which keeps you asking for more, and this “more” if delivered, can happen only in a sequel. The Seventy Three out of One Hundred, which I have provided the movie with, is not the exact rating for everyone, as a slightly lesser rating might make most of the common movie watchers happy, but I am going to stick with this one, being at my subjective side. This is a movie which you can watch prepared to take it as the entertainer starring two big names and a gorgeous leading actress, not to forget the typical villains. Yes, there are a few things reminding us of some of those Quentin Tarantino flicks, for this movie doesn’t belong to one category, not of comedy, action, adventure or thriller completely, but still qualifies as action comedy from a distance.

Release date: 20th September 2013 (India); 2nd August 2013 (United States)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos, Allie DeBerry, Robert John Burke

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

North 24 Kaatham

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This is one of the gifts from Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) as I am concerned. No, they didn’t produce this ticket, but a powercut had me going to the theatres. If you wonder if it was the first time, the answer should be no.  And yes, I liked the movie, and there was no reason not to. If any of you don’t like it, I have to say that I don’t write for you. Yes, I write what I find and what I feel; now that wasn’t really a surprise. Well, unlike the fanboys’ stuff like Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, North 24 Kaatham has more soul than most of those movies out there, yes this blog itself is about the movies of the soul, and if you do not possess a soul or intellect enough to respect others’ opinions, why bother reading reviews when you know that you shall come up with a different opinion than the reviewer? Except for the fans whose opinions are fixed, I would like to believe that there is hope for Malayalam movies. Well, there is no bigger evil than people who do not respect the opinions of others, and I have to say that some of them don’t even know what an opinion means, and it is disappointing in this world.

You evil ones are lesser in number this time, as the critics as well as each and every one in the theatre liked this movie and clapped. So, I am going to be very clear about this one. I have more reasons to like this one than a leading actor and a leading actress who can act. Before that, let me tell the good people among you and the others motivated by self-interest with willing distrust of human (or bat) sincerity, on what goes on in this movie. It is the story of Hari (Fahadh Faasil), a genius computer programmer who is hated by his colleagues due to his lack of social interaction, over-cleanliness and the seemingly hostile attitude to most of the things. He is that kind of a person who hasn’t even gone outside his city, living with a fear of travel. But he is forced to go on a journey as part of his job, and on a day of harthal, he is caught in the middle of a world which he is not familiar with. He is caught up with two other people (Nedumudi Venu and Swati Reddy) and he joins them on their journey, and on the way, he changes his attitude towards life and by the end of the journey, he is a changed man.

I know what kind of questions the evil world can come up with. It might be about the change in the protagonist, but I would say it is clearly a believable change, if not incredibly perfect to the core, but even that wouldn’t be acceptable to the new generation fans. Our protagonist was never a bad man, and nothing has changed in his soul if we look at him. He surely might have had his share of psychological problems, but as a good person, through a few incidents, he realizes his mistakes. Remember how one major psychological problem was solved by one major incident in Manichitrathazhu? This is actually not that much of a problem, for Hari had the right to live in his world as much as anybody else, which is why I say that change is a change only on the surface, and therefore it is nothing for which you have to push a huge stone to the top of a mountain and jump into water with the same stone tied around your neck. Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi was based on selfishness, just like Annayum Rasoolum. But this movie has a lot of goodness in it, and therefore try to enjoy the little things which give the good people happiness rather than be evil and go on a meaningless trip leaving your family behind, for life is reclaimed by goodness and the joy of art and literature alone, and not by having fun, sorry hedonists.

Fahadh Faasil gives a brilliant performance yet again, and yes I was so disappointed with his Olipporu that I couldn’t watch his critically well-received movie Artist, and D Company again let me down. But even with so much less dialogues, he scores and raises the level of this movie with his co-star from one of the movies of the year Amen. Yes, I am talking about the wonderfully talented, charming lady lead that we have got here, Swati Reddy. She plays a modern social worker, wearing a hood and shortening her name Narayani as Nani. She continues her good run in the Malayalam movie industry even as this is an entirely different role from her earlier debut in Malayalam this year. Even as Fahadh is the centre of attraction in this movie, she is charm, and the way in which both of them contradict each other brightens each other, as much as the black and white compliments each other, like no grey character could have ever did, and please note that this black and white doesn’t stand for evil and good, for that age has disappeared. Like Solomon and Sosanna, here is Hari and Narayani, but I would wonder myself if such a romantic side was forced, still a better love story than Annayum Rasoolum and a better travel story than Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi.

The performance by our own veteran actor Nedumudi Venu is another highlight, for he plays the third person in their gang of lost people on the day of harthal. How can I praise someone who is beyond the same? That leaves us with the factor that lies under what seems to be an ordinary plot. It is the social message which worked just the opposite in Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi. Here, it is perfectly done. It is a powerful message against harthal and labelling people as not belonging to the group. There is the trouble of harthal and the condition of the roads that are alluded in the movie. Well, the question remains if Hari needed to change, for he was always good, hardworking and doing what he felt was right. Who would know the minds of the others who surrounded them? Well, it shows how important it is to display your inner goodness or pretend to be caring like some of those devils with human masks do, or the society shall keep you at a pterosaur’s wings apart. It shows how society doesn’t like people who are different, but Hari’s difference in the end is the kind of change that society likes – there lies the biggest paradox of man as a social animal.

As Fahadh plays a much misunderstood man with no heroic quality in him other than goodness, there is that deconstruction of the hero image which the fans would love to identify with. Swati’s character take over some traits of that heroism, and I would guess that a few wouldn’t like this reversal of roles. As Swati’s character makes it her responsiblity to get the old man home safe, Fahadh’s character take the smaller role of accompanying them. The heroism is attributed to the lady here, and in that case, Swati Reddy plays another Sosanna of Amen who fights for her aim, instead of Solomon. She helps the old man out of the train and Hari into the bus, a moment of visible shock in the faces of both. She leads the journey even when Hari keeps moving on the front. The people they meet on the way are presented with their own shades of grey, some of them closer to white and the others close enough to black. They are all down to earth just like the plot of the movie. This feel good movie doesn’t have that new generation add-ons and neither does it has any action sequence; therefore it is a good movie which reflects the goodness of Onam and the right movie for the season.

In a life which is consistently plagued by death, our celebration of life should come from doing the right thing from within our limitations, and not by the unruly “Carpe diem” behaviour. We have such a short life, that is for sure; but living that with a selfish motive of maximum pleasure being the only intrinsic good is not something to be recommended. North 24 Kaatham nullifies the “travel for pleasure philosophy” of Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and uses the “goodness of a travel philosophy” which is much needed in our age. Why do I talk like this?  Because I have travelled with someone, a stranger who didn’t know the local language and made sure that he got home, not this much of a long and interesting story, but I have done what I could on multiple occasions even as I am becoming more skeptic every day – this is our own story, with its own add-ons.  Well, the movie is funny, innovative and thought provoking all at the same time. What more do you need? What more should a debutant director provide you with? If it still, doesn’t touch our heart enough, we are not human enough, and we have no soul within us. It is not old, but it still glitters like gold, and entertains us with its righteousness and the realization like in the 2007 Hollywood movie Evan Almighty, that “the way to change the world is by doing one Act of Random Kindness”. By the end of the day, we are all heroes, not just someone who is born heroic or rises to heroism due to his nobility; thank you dear director.

Release date: 15th September 2013
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Anil Radhakrishnan Menon
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Swati Reddy, Nedumudi Venu, Sreenath Bhasi, Premgi Amaren, Srinda Ashab, Chemban Vinod Jose, Salaam Bukhari

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

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I have taken the liberty to anglicize Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus into God’s Own Cleetus just like how Daivathinte Swantham Naadu becomes God’s Own Country. No, this is not that much of a lovable character to be baptised twice, but it is the effort of the actor behind the character and the way in which he has done justice to that character which makes Cleetus our own. Yes, you might find the world of this movie asking for a better treatment, but for a debutant director and the background which has been used, this is a very good recovery for a movie which didn’t impress the audience by its trailer nor with the brief storyline which was shared. Let me be clear about one thing; this movie could have gone either way, to the depths of abyss or to the heights of the lost paradise regained. If there is a question about where it stands at the moment, it is a long way from that abyss. Yes, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus has survived, and did use its survival instincts well enough to add on to that survival guide new stories of goodness and faith. If you don’t like this movie, that is still understandable, but it can never stoop low enough to deserve hatred, that is where this movie plays safe, and it is how this movie shall hold on to its audience during this Onam vacation.

It will be facing a tough competition from the most awaited movie of the Onam, Dileep’s Sringaravelan, a possible surprise in the form of Indrajith Sukumaran’s Ezhamathe Varavu, and an interest-seeking Fahadh flick North 24 Kaatham, as we leave D Company out of that list. The Hollywood’s challenge in the form of Grown Ups 2 has self-destructed, and Bollywood’s John Day along with Horror Story are too much limited in shows with an adult-rated Grand Masti not to be an Onam favourite for sure. With pretty much a good competition in store, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus might not be expected to do that good, but the verdict for the other Malayalam movies are not really out yet. Why would we still need movies like this to survive? Because it has tried its luck in an unfamiliar territory even if the fuel is a familiar one. It has a little bit of Chamayam, Pranchiyettan and The Saint and Amen in it, hidden well, but not from the eyes of experienced movie watchers. But, has the movie relentlessly tried to dig these movies out? The answer is no. There is nothing in common as a whole, and our movie has successfully brought out a legacy of its own, not from the ashes, but out of the most valuable sparks which could give rise to a phoenix.

The story tells the story of Cleetus (Mammootty), a feared criminal who causes problems wherever he goes. He is an alcoholic and always ready to do anything for money. As a parish priest Sunny Vadakkumthala (Siddique) chooses him to act as Jesus Christ in a drama as part of a church programme without knowing his true identity, something he does after rejecting a lot of people, chaos breaks loose among the theatre artists. The priest decides to persist with him and his sidekick (Aju Varghese) despite knowing his true identity, in the belief that the experience of being a character such as Jesus Christ might reform him, thus taking a huge risk considering the massive show which is going to happen and the audience expected. If Cleetus changes or makes the people around him change, whether the drama happens or Cleetus makes a clear mess out of it is left to be seen. Will Jesus Christ’s life change Cleetus or will his life change the fate of the drama in a horrible way? The movie answers the question very late, as every time, he would seem to get a little better, the world around him changes needing him to make those adjustments he is not used to make.

The whole movie undoubtedly rests on Mammootty, and as once again he rises to occasion, it is a treat to all the fans and neutral audience alike. No, Cleetus is not Immanuel, Kunjananthan, Bavutty or Mathukkutty, for he is a gunda, and he is surely nowhere near Pranchiyettan. A long list of characters of goodness is teared apart here, as our protagonist starts as the sinner who is not even set on the path to redemption. Unlike the others, Cleetus is a man who rises and takes the chalice of goodness, finishing it with relative ease. There is no denying that the image gets some self-imposed backlashes, but nothing that will not contribute to Cleetus being more and more human, with the shades of grey rather than pitch black – after all who can deny some mood-swings? Do we love Cleetus? The answer would be no. But he gets as close to being lovable as possible for a man seeking redemption, and he seemed to have attained some of it by the end. He comes that far by keeping himself far away from a superhuman image which could come across this time, even as there is no denying the fact that our protagonist beats up a lot of people, something which was expected right from the beginning.

Even as the movie belongs to Mammootty in an undisputed manner, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Thesni Khan handles the humour department quite effectively. Suraj remains the strong link of humour in this flick. Rejith Menon has made his presence felt, as the one and only Romeo character in the movie. Honey Rose is very good in her role, and it a matured character that we see this time. Sanam Shetty has that beautiful presence, something which she carries over from what we saw in Cinema Company, that grace and beauty which was talked about as that of a Greek goddess in that movie; for there is no denying who is the Aphrodite as well as the Juliet in this movie. Vijayaraghavan leaves a mark as one of the villain characters, and so does Kailash. Siddique was at his best, doing a character which he seemed to perfect. It is impossible to keep him out of this world where he once again does a fantastic job. There is a tremendous energy in his character, and also that much needed serenity, the two things which seemed to suit each other very well. One of our favourite comedy stars on television, Ullas Pandalam also makes good mark in the movie.

So, can the worst of people change and go back to God? Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus shows us that all hope is not lost. As the character goes through playing the life of Jesus Christ, his attitude towards life changes too, as a lot of the events in the life of Christ seems to be reflecting in his own world in a small and slightly similar manner. We have a man who has no previous acting experience, like Manoj K. Jayan in Chamayam. No, I am not really comparing, for that one would make it to my all-time favourite list, or may be more than one list. As that monologue in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” – here Cleetus plays one, and plays it fine and it replaces his real life as his new role, and it didn’t just go away as one of the parts which he played, as it stayed on with him. It is “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Because almost the whole world are actors) as Petronius is supposed to have given us. Some of us live our part and others play our roles, and in both cases, the path is similar and leading to the same destination.

Well, we know that it is never late to turn to God. It is the faith, belief and hope that is supposed to guide us rather than materialism. Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus comes up with a great spectacle of divinity by the end, something which is comparable to Amen’s final battle of music, even as this one is less about music and more about the scenes. Is there a hidden magic realism in it? Does it have the magic touch of Pranchiyettan and The Saint helping the movie on moving forward? These are questions which can have more than one answers. But for now, this movie has done its part, but not living upto its potential. The life of Cleetus and his transformation could have been a lot more interesting. It was so close to achieving that balance that a little Icarus-sun battle might have brought it closer to its current rating. It is still your choice if you are to choose one man, who is both the saint and the sinner, saviour and the punisher, redeemer and the destroyer, moving from the path of evil to the way of goodness paved by angels and showered by blessings. This is another Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The destiny of Cleetus now stands in the hands of the viewers, and its final fate is yet to be decided.

Release date: 12th September 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Marthandan
Starring: Mammootty, Honey Rose, Aju Varghese, Sanam Shetty, Rejith Menon, Kailash, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan, Vinayakan, Vijayaraghavan, Anoop Chandran, P. Balachandran, Ullas Pandalam

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Diamond Necklace

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As they say in the movie Neram, there are two types of time, the good time and the bad time, and the good time of Fahadh Faasil had started from Chaappa Kurishu, with no disasters at the box office moving on to Immanuel. I didn’t really like what came later though, but as we know already, another thing about our versatile actor is that we can often identify his career with the quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities too; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and I would identify the same with his other movies, Annayum Rasoolum and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla. Yes, Diamond Necklace was part of the good time, or the best of times, and it was the best from Lal Jose, no real doubt about that unless you bring Achanurangatha Veedu, Classmates or Arabikkatha into the picture with a handful of logic. Does any of these movies have this simple a plot set in too simple a world, and still come up with such an intriguing situation on screen? No, they were movies of incidents, revolving around one major incident or decision which set the events running while Diamond Necklace belongs to everyday life, and a collection of life; its celebration as the worlds of ups and downs which flows through our life, supported by beautiful songs, “Nilamalare”, “Thottu Thottu” and “Nenjinullil”.

Arun Kumar (Fahadh Faasil) is a docor who lives in Dubai and leads a life of luxury, supported by his wallet full of credit cards. He has no regret about the past or worries about the future, as he lives in the present, spending money lavishly with nobody to stop him from doing the same. His friends belong to higher league, and he shares apartment with his friend in the tallest buildig in the middle east and the world, Burj Khalifa. Savithri (Rohini), his boss in the hospital also seems to spoil him with her sisterly affection, but she is also unaware of how much of a debt Arun is putting himself into. He has acquaintances with labourers from Kerala, especially Venu (Sreenivasan) whom he tries to avoid in his stylish, high quality life which has no place for the lesser people of lower social status, even as he is still friendly with all on the outside. Driving the latest cars and enjoying life to the maximum, he meets Lakshmi(Gauthami Nair), a newly recruited Tamil nurse in his department. She is the first girl to whom he is seriously attracted. She had come to the middle east with a dream of making enough money for building a hospital in their village, so that no more people have to die there for having no facilities or money. Arun is impressed by her wits, attitude and dedication towards work.

Even as their relation blossoms, his chances of going through with it receives a serious blow, as he runs out of money and his car is towed away by the creditors. He is left with no way to go home and see his sick mother as the credits keep him in the country. He is helped by an influential man, Narayana Menon (Maniyanpilla Raju) who makes it possible for him to go back to Kerala, but at the same time, he is tricked into marriage with Narayanan’s niece, Rajasree (Anusree) who is a simple village girl who has absolutely no clue about city life nor life outside Kerala. Even as they are thought to be a rich family, Rajasree’s world is later known to be a small and simple one, not enough to pay back even a percent of Arun’s credits. When he comes back to Dubai, he is left with no place to stay, and as he doesn’t have enough advance to pay for any place, he stays in the labor camp with Venu. Lakshmi who comes to know about his marriage, ends their relationship and refuses to talk to him. Maya (Samvrutha Sunil), a relative of Savithri, is a fashion designer who was diagnosed with cancer, with a wish to start a boutique in Dubai. Her fiancee had left her due to her illness which had left her highly depressed. Arun ends up sharing her apartment and becomes very close to her.

Later, when she sees Rajasree with him, she is shocked as she didn’t know that he was married, and is admitted in the hospital. It leaves Savithri with lesser affection towards him. As he gathers her possessions, he notices a diamond necklace that she keeps with her, something which can save him from his problems. He decides to replace it with a fake one and does the same successfully. This is where the whole situation revolving around a necklace arises, as his wife finds the original necklace and wears it thinking that it is a birthday gift from him. Meanwhile, Maya almost dies due to an overdose of medicine. He is unable to get the necklace back from his wife who has shown the same to almost everyone including her foul-mouthed relatives of vanity. He often feels that he should return it to Maya and he can’t, and neither can he sell it. Caught between the worlds of greed, remorse and helpless, the only people who are with him consists of the simple labourers whom he once avoided. So, the plot still revolves around the ladies in his life, and how Arun comes out of this problem, not with any deus ex machina or a huge twist of fate, but rather with the simple things being the result of everyday happenings and common feelings makes the whole of the story. The artificial stuff has been kept out for good.

So, here is Fahadh Faasil showing his abilities as a versatile actor, moving away from the new generation trends of Chaappa Kurishu and 22 Female Kottayam, but coming up strong as an energetic youth who symbolizes the common young man of the century, with the usual attitude of “I will drink Life to the lees” which was said by the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a liefstyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. These, as I have already mentioned in my review of Spring Breakers, symbolizes the character Fahadh is playing in this movie.

But what does this hedonism, the power of “Carpe diem” bring to him? Does this help him to seize the day? Yes it does, but those days become long gone. I agree to the fact that we are all kind of hedonists in one way or the other, varying only in the degree. But considering the current world and the environment to which we are exposed, something which stays within the limits can rarely be interpreted as hedonism. But our protagonist belongs to the higher degree of “Carpe diem” as he puts as little trust as possible in the next day, as a man who is exposed to all the luxuries of the magical world of the city of Dubai, powered by oil, and highly influenced by modernity and science rather than antiquity, history or literature. For a man who comes the humble backgrounds of a small village, this might have been a big moment for him, being in Dubai and earning so much. It is evident in his relations with the labourers whom he consider as lesser people. But soon he realizes that they are the ones who are there to help him without asking anything in return, and it is his time to live like a common man rather than a hedonist, and live his life of responsibilities. Such a realization is supported by a beautiful ending which makes sure that his world remains one of beauty and goodness rather than crookedness and money. The movie itself is a message against irresponsible hedonism, and a support for unconditional love, responsibility and equality.

Once again, Fahadh Faasil is the man to watch out for, and I guess there is not much need to talk about the same, as it nothing unexpected. Samvrutha Sunil has a powerful role and she has done it with lots of life. Gauthami Nair makes a strong impact as the determined, powerful character. Anusree’s role is worth a lot of acclaim, and the funny moments come from her character’s stupidity, and still the goodness and love that the character exhibits makes this one quite a beautiful portrayal. Rohini and Sreenivasan have to play the roles of two seniors in the life of the protagonist who lends him advice and helping hand, and they form the world of light and goodness in his life. Diamond Necklace relates to its viewer with its tenderness and its high dose of objective correlative; with a reigning simplicity and reflections of the common incidents and random life events. It is the Malayalam movie of the year 2012, no matter how much anybody tries to prove that it isn’t. Also look out for the cinematography by Sameer Thahir; about our director Lal Jose, there is nothing more to say other than making a call to watch the movie. This was a movie which came into the theatres, disappeared, and came back again; such is awesomeness of this movie, even as only a few people recognized it during its first run, and myself came across the same during its comeback run in the local theatre.

Release date: 4th May 2012
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Samvrutha Sunil, Gauthami Nair, Anusree, Rohini, Sreenivasan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Kailash, Sukumari, Thesni Khan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Riddick

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Vin Diesel is back in a form which is not at all unfamiliar to his fans, for he is Riddick once again, the intergalactic nocturnal criminal of the worst kind. This movie, just like that well known quote “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” is a “film of Vin Diesel, by Vin Diesel, for Vin Diesel”, but that would decrease the scope by a long margin. So, this is a movie for Vin Diesel fans, lovers of Alien sci-fi horror, those not disturbed by violence, and the ones who can wait for some action sequences despite of an initial drag. Yes, it is a huge improvement over its predecessor, The Chronicles of Riddick and a sight improvement over Pitch Black, the first movie of the franchise. But then, questions shall arise, if this was actually needed; is it just made to create another movie in the series, or is it a pre-matured release of something which could have been far better. The movie keeps the questions active, as it progresses in an attempt to re-create the impact of Pitch Black and make it better. Radha Mitchell was quite unsuitable for that movie and she didn’t bend in like she could in Silent Hill, but in this movie, we also have a better and a more suitable female lead, about whom we shall discuss later.

So, the story follows where the second movie of the series, The Chronicles of Riddick had left the plot. Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), the new Lord Marshall of the Necromongers was fed up with his new life and wanted to return to his homeworld of Furya for which he makes a deal with Commander Vaako (Karl Urban); to get to him to his home planet with Vaako being given the throne in return for the service. Riddick and a group of Necromongers go to a planet which he identifies as not Furya, but is trapped under rubble after the ledge on which he stood is destroyed by one of them and he fell to his doom as they guessed. But Riddick survives, as he gets up from underneath the dust and even manages to thrive, after defeating dog-like alien creatures and getting away from scorpion-like aliens. He becomes a Robinson Crusoe of another planet, living life on his own terms. He catches and trains one of the dog-like creatures and with it, crosses the water which had the scorpion-like things, killing two of them in the process, reaching grasslands from the devastated area he was caught in.

As the next phase of his life begins in the grasslands, he locates an abandoned communication station, and as the final and the only possible attempt to get out of the planet, he activates the station’s emergency beacon which identifies him and sends his photos and bounty details all over the universe. The beacon is answered by two ships, one led by a man named Santana (Jordi Mollà), and another led by another man named Boss Johns (Matt Nable). As the first team seems to be full of bounty hunters, the second seems to be of hunters of another type. They don’t seem to get along at all, as Santana and Johns’ second-in-command Dahl (Katee Sackhoff) gets in serious confrontations, and the presence of a second group of hunters is not entertained by the first group, as they were there first and wanted to claim all the bounty for Riddick’s head. Riddick sends them a message to leave one of the ships and go back to their world if they don’t wish to be killed, which they ignore. Three of Santana’s men are killed in the first night itself, courtesy the intergalactic murderer, his pet alien dog and his traps.

The next phase of his time on the planet begins as he manages to steal a power core from each ship which would destroy the ship’s balance and its ability to traverse as it is supposed to. He then approaches Johns and Santana to work out a deal, the same thing concerning leaving a ship behind for him. But it doesn’t work out as he might have wanted, as Santana kills his pet alien dog and their sniper Dahl takes him down with strong tranquilizers. He is chained as Santana keeps asking for his head in a cage. But when the nightmare creatures of the planet, the highly evolved and lethal aliens, arrive in another black moonless night, to save themselves from the pitch black creatures, they are forced to unleash Riddick. He has the power cores, he can see at night and he is one of the most lethal convicts ever, and there was no other choice for sure. But the question remains if he shall be their saviour or their destroyer, as the first thing he does is to cut off Santana’s head, something which he was planning to do to Riddick. He is lethal, no doubt about that, and will he stick to his word? And will the hunters stick to their word after evading the creatures and getting the ship ready to escape?

Yes, this is Vin Diesel’s movie. How often do you have the same lone leading character in a movie which released nine years after the earlier movie in the franchise? There is nothing in the story that doesn’t concern Riddick – the whole thing is about him, as how good is his survival skills, how well he can adapt, and most of all, how well he can kill. Vin Diesel is once again the perfect Riddick, but slightly lesser in aggression compared to what he was in the previous titles. Just like The Fast and the Furious banks on him, and XXX will bank on him again sooner or later, this movie depends upon the man to get itself working, and to give the franchise that life which he gave to that one dying franchise with Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. There is no doubt that this will survive due to him, and might even produce sequels, but how much of a success this would be is still a question. I would guess that some moderate success will be in store, but a sequel would do better both critically and also in the box-office. Dominic Toretto, Xander Cage and Richard B. Riddick, these three will be the names with which Diesel shall always be remembered, and this was that golden opportunity to keep Riddick high over the others, but even as he has done nothing wrong, this character would remain second in the Vin Diesel world.

Karl Urban as Vaako has just a small presence, but we can hope for more from him in a possible sequel. Dave Bautista, better known as Batista, The Animal and The Leviathan for the WWE fans also makes an impact as one of the bounty hunters, as he goes on battle with our own anti-hero, but gets killed unlike how the other former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who jointed Diesel’s character in his most popular franchise. He provides the extra muscle for the movie. Matt Nable as Boss Johns has done a neat job, as the man who has a lot more reasons other than a bounty to come and search for the wanted convict. His character is just the opposite of Jordi Mollà’s Santana, the former matured and showing his experience while the latter showing his greed, ego and recklessness. Both of them has done their characters quite a lot of justice for sure, and the latter upto that extent that the man became extremely annoying. They are all bounty hunters or mercenaries in one way or the another. Katee Sackhoff makes a powerful performance as Dahl, and as she herself is said to have told in an interview that it is one of the toughest characters she has ever played. She is the dazzling badass girl who can play Power Girl or Wonder Woman someday. She is depicted as one of the strongest and able to give away heavyweight punches along with gunshots of extreme accuracy.

Talking more of the Katee Sackhoff character’s strength and durability is certain as she often reminds us of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, and talking about Alien, the creatures of this movie are not so different from those, except for the fact that they don’t come out of the chests, but rather go through it. The creature imagery formed by the CGI is quite superb. They are still not as frightening as expected, but they keep their level. The one thing about the world is that it is heavily detailed, and one can find so much in the environment, which embraces the beauty of another world perfectly. There is darkness which generates alienation and fear, and the shot of Riddick fighting massive number of aliens on a slope with lightning and rain in the background, is a shot worth remembering, and there are some lesser shots of style when he walks on the scorched areas of the planet much earlier and later as he moves around in he grasslands. There is horror for sure, and there is action with lots of blood and gore, but the question remains if this is John Carter’s Die Hard, as this is more like what Bruce Willis might have done in Mars to save the day, not denying the fact that Riddick is one of his kind. Did Riddick say “I’ll be back” in any of the earlier movies, if not, he has surely meant to say it and make it happen with this movie, and my only hope is that they can actually have a good plot and progress of the story next time rather than thinking like Pitch Black again.

Release date: 6th September 2013
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Karl Urban, Conrad Pla, Danny Blanco Hall, Noah Danby, Neil Napier, Nolan Gerard Funk, Alex Branson, Andreas Apergis, Keri Hilson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

We’re the Millers

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It was a delayed entrance that this comedy movie made to the theatres here and there was a bigger delay in me watching the same. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones had taken over the last weekend, and it was necessary that I had to wait, and therefore I did and took this pill of comedy which is We’re the Millers. The Hangover Part III was the last full-time comedy of this nature which I had watched in the theatre last. Now, here is this movie which overtakes the final movie of a series of a solid fanbase even with its highly predictable setup which comes up with no surprises or moments of absolute brilliance. It is more of a disadvantage of that movie rather than the capability of this movie. But the difference in rating is negligible and the effect is also not that much of a variation, as you can check right here: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/thehangover3/ except for the well-known fact that it was The Hangover, and was to be respected for the first movie of the franchise, which was just another Dude, Where’s My Car? if we look at it with eyes uncovered of the glorified mist.

David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is a drug dealer of a smaller level, a chronic bachelor and still a happy one until he is robbed of his money and stock, on a night of stupidity. His boss, a rich drug lord and gangster Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) forces David to smuggle marijuana from Mexico to the United States in order to clear his debt to be him as well as gain some good carrier fee. As he is known enough as a drug dealer and one man crossing the border is going to be more suspicious, he hires a stripper named Rose (Jennifer Aniston) who is having heavy financial difficulties and loses her job, an arrogant runaway teenage punk girl named Casey (Emma Roberts), and his eighteen year-old neighbor Kenny who is afraid of kissing a girl (Will Poulter) to pose as a typical American family called the Millers travelling in an RV, with that random family name he came across. They are a strange group, but still manage to get through into Mexico and also get the needed goods from a Mexican drug-hold, despite almost getting shot by the gangsters and being caught by the Mexican police.

Due to the presence of a heavy load of marijuana on the RV, the automobile breaks down. They are helped by a family called Fitzgeralds whom they had encountered at the border, and it consisted of Don (Nick Offerman), Edie (Kathryn Hahn), and Melissa (Molly Quinn). As they take the Millers’ RV to a repair shop, Kenny falls further for Melissa. It is then revealed that Don Fitzgerald is a DEA agent as he comes across his badge and the gun. After Edie seems to be highly interested in Rose, and Melissa finds out Kenny kissing both Casey and Rose (as they were trying to teach him the same), a holy mess breaks out and despite the husband and wife being reluctant to leave them, they finally get to the shop only to be greeted by the real drug lord whose package they had been carrying over. But they try to convince him that they are not a real family, and Rose is a stripper, as she strips down to her underwear and do some pole-dancing and attacks him with a steam vent which sets them on the escape route with an angry drug lord and his men behind them. As they try to settle their differences, they are followed by one of the most dangerous gangs and it is to see if they can survive and finish their mission, earning the much needed money.

Jennifer Aniston who seems to look better and better, steals the show in this movie, as the stripper and still the caring supposed-to-be-mother. I haven’t watched many of her movies, and the only one I can remember right now, is Bruce Almighty, possibly because the genres of the films she acted in rarely was part of my to-be-watched list. May be I could find a few more of the movies with her in them, sooner or later. The absence of big male leading actor is solved by her presence, and even as this is more of an opportunity for her to get into her character and look awesome. But it is to be noted that her acting skills as a comedy actress also gets its due, and she never looks out of place and even her character’s job in the movie seems to help her performance highly. She has her charm working out throughout the movie as she triumphs in what she does. Most of the better moments of the movie has her as part of it. She is the biggest star in the movie, and the next one is Ed Helms, the Stu of The Hangover franchise with quite a small screen presence. He comes, make a short impact and then makes small appearances.

Jason Sudeikis as David Clark makes a good central character, and he has his own good moments in an everlasting screen presence. He remains funny throughout, as his dynamic character evolves from the drug dealer who keeps seeking money to a responsible father-to-be. Will Poulter’s Kenny Rossmore is undoubtedly the funniest of all characters in the movie. He is instantly likable even with all the nonsense that he come with up with, adding to the funny side of the movie. Emma Roberts as Casey Mathis, and she provides the right dose of energy or the lack of it at the right moments, creating the much needed contrast with Kenny on one side, while also with David on another side. She is the bad kid, a strange and never caring girl who ran away from her home due to small differences. Nick Offerman’s Don Fitzgerald and Kathryn Hahn’s Edie Fitzgerald are the next funnier characters. Molly Quinn as Melissa Fitzgerald has a cute, beautiful, innocent presence throughout the time she spends on screen. She might even be the best-looking person around in the movie. Tomer Sisley is a fine Mexican drug lord and Matthew Willig makes a good henchman.

The strength of this movie is its cast, as one might expect even before watching the trailer of this movie. But the question remains if they could have had a better, less predictable plots with not much of the repeated comedy scenes. Some of them are too silly and stupid for the common movie watcher who has had a long season of watching comedy movies. It might be more than just okay for the viewers from this part of the world, as adult-comedy is not something you get to watch in theatres too often here, and even if it does attack the big screen or the television channels, there are more to cut than to show, making the whole thing a lot more shorter than what it really is. Jennifer Aniston surely had some of her stripping and pole-dancing cut from the totality, and there has been a lot of dialogues by both the male and the female lead which has been removed. The movie surely felt quite short compared to its total running time given in the internet, but one can also think that it was more because it was funny and entertaining enough, with subtitles to make sure that none of those terms are missed by the usual audience who don’t get to see movies of this genre every day, every month or even every year.

The Heat and Grown Ups 2 hasn’t come to our theatres, but The Hangover Part III had quite a good time here. We’re the Millers also had quite an okay time here, but Jennifer Aniston can’t create that much of an effect here and there all the collection this movie makes here comes from the trailer which was shown before Indian movies, and that trailer was pretty good rising the bar of expectations. The fact that Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is having a better word of mouth, and still staying on to have more shows, and Riddick coming to make an impact with a superstar who is loved in this part of the world, the only hope for this movie is to fill the void which The Conjuring might leave next week after scaring enough people. But that might also be filled by new releases in different languages, as the Onam celebrations are coming up and families shall flock into both the normal theatres as well as the multiplexes, not for adult-comedy, but for the family movies, mostly in Malayalam followed by Tamil and Hindi in that order. So the time of this movie has almost ended here, but it has surely created enough impact outside here. For now, I hope that they don’t steal from this movie to make a road trip flick in the form of a Hindi or Malayalam movie, as a whole or in part, as that won’t be tolerable at all.

Release date: 7th August 2013 (United States); 31st August 2013 (India)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, Ken Marino, Matthew Willig, Tomer Sisley, Thomas Lennon

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Texas Chainsaw

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I have always valued The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as one of my favourite horror movie franchises, even as not that high a piece of horror if each of them are taken individually. But, I might change the idea if I watch them again, but I don’t really have that much of information stored about the movies in this series any more, as that movie watching adventure happened too long ago, I didn’t complete watching the series nor did I watch any of the movies of the franchise more than once. I did search for the video game of the same name in vain though. One can’t stop oneself from remembering Leatherface though, as he is one of those classic slasher horror characters along with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, ChromeSkull, Jacob Goodnight, Ben Willis, Ghostface and Rusty Nail, not forgetting that there are others whom I keep myself from mentioning right now. One of the first of the large number of slasher horror movies which came to existence in the 1970s, this movie’s great grandfather still has a strong base right there.

I did miss the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the 2006 prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. About the rest of the movies of the franchise, I couldn’t be sure, which is why I decided to watch this one. It was time to give Leatherface his due, for he has been kept waiting for long. This movie is a direct sequel to the first of the series, which was the most successful of the series. Not many slasher movies can boast of a critical rating that the original movie had succeeded in collecting, but our movie has a collection of the exact opposite type of reviews, the negative ones, almost interchanging the ratings of rottentomatoes from 91% to 19%, but let not that thing worry us as usual. We know what we are going to watch while going for a slasher horror movie. It is not a blend of intellectually superior greatness and spiritual enlightenment poured into a cup and mixed with everything highly logical and rational to the extreme point. A slasher film shall remain what it is and keep to its genre, and Texas Chainsaw 3D has undoubtedly done that.

As said earlier, we go back to the events of the 1974 movie which started it all. Before the movie starts there are some great visuals from what came to the franchise early, going on at the same time as the credits are rolling; a pretty good start to a franchise which is trying to pick itself up from within the ashes. The whole family of Leatherface is murdered by the locals as the house is burnt down in a quick attack. But a little baby belonging to the family is taken by one of the arsonists after killing her mother, and he raises her as his daughter with his wife who was not able to get pregnant. Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) has now grown up without any knowledge about her real existence, until she comes to know that her grandmother, Verna Carson (Marilyn Burns), has passed away and left all of her possession to her which leads her to the realization that she was adopted. Heather and her boyfriend Ryan (Tremaine Neverson), along with two other friends, Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), decides to travel to Newt to find her roots and collect her inheritance. On the way, the group gives a lift to another man Darryl (Shaun Sipos) whom they mildly hit with their car at a petrol pump.

When they arrive at the place, the grandmother’s family lawyer, Farnsworth (Richard Riehle), reaches there and gives her the keys to the family mansion along with a letter from her grandmother. All of them are exicted about the grand property which she owns, and they look around the house, as Heather’s eyes strike a graveyard on one side of the house and says “Thank You” at her grandmother’s grave while others have some fun and decides to stay there during the night as it is an enormous and beautiful place. As the friends leave to get supplies for the nigh, Darryl decides to loot the house and get out there as soon as possible, but comes across Leatherface as he goes greedy and looks for the big price with a big key to the cellar, even as the fact remains that he could have easily gotten away with what he had already collected. The fact that he tried so hard to be killed by Leatherface remains the usual thing of horror movies. But, the most important thing is that he is dead and the killer is now on the loose, to be unleashed on the four friends. But they would know nothing about the same as they say cheers and enjoy the night, believing that the man had looted them and left already.

Kenny is the next one to die, impaled with a hook, and Heather is knocked out and taken to the domain of Leatherface in the cellar where he is seen to work on the corpse with a chainsaw and murders Kenny who was still alive with he same weapon of his choice. When the killer is distracted, she somehow manages to run outside followed by Leatherface. She jumps into an open grave in the graveyard and hides herself in one of the coffins only to be found out by the killer before being distracted by the two remaining live humans out there. But they don’t realize that she is in the coffin and neither do they know what kind of terror they are calling upon themselves, as they are chased by the same man with the chainsaw. Heather comes back with a van, but they fails to go out through the gate as it neither opens nor gets destroyed. Finally, when the gate opens, the killer is still after them, and as Leatherface manages to scratch two tires on a side with his chainsaw, the van gets out of control and goes upside down, and the chase begins there. Does Leatherface have a plan for them or does he have separate ones for his relative and the rest if he knows about it, that is something which is to be answered. And what would the former arsonists think about all of these?

Well, the movie doesn’t come up with anything to hold its base facing the wind from the critics. Among the two things that do have a say, the first one is about Dan Yeager as Leatherface, who was as menacing as the human skin mask wearing, chainsaw holding murderer. Even as it seemed going down the drains in the beginning, he has held his head high, as the serial killer of ages. The other thing is the performance of Alexandra Daddario as Heather Miller, who evolved between her own existence of working at a slaughterhouse to being in a slaughterhouse of humans created by his own cousin, making some strange choices which reiterates her existence not as the victim, but more as the youngest member of a bloodline which has that gory history of ages. Being one of the most gorgeous choices for a horror movie protagonist, she shares her beautiful presence blended with the terror that her one last relative unleashes, and she herself realizes and to an extent, embraces. After watching Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and its sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the first thought would be that she could be nobody other than Annabeth Chase, the daughter of the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena – but time changes and here she is the cousin of Leatherface, the Master of Pain; the Legend of Horror; for she has that kinship with her once again.

Texas Chainsaw is no super movie in any way, and its effects are not far lasting, as it thrives too much on blood and gore. Other than that, it has the legendary villain and Alexandra Daddario’s dynamic character which she perfects, to support its cause. It is to be noted that Alexandra Daddario has come up with great performance in the lead roles for the two of her movies which were released here. Still, both of these characters suffer from the way they have chosen to continue the story from the original. There are moments which make sure that this movie stay on top, but there is no regular flow in its environment which ensures that this would go on to make the world of terror rise and clap. The movie makes an attempt to turn the tide in favour of Leatherface, and his cousin Heather against most of what is left in her world. But its success is only marginal, and both of them remains on the other side, the dark one. But with its graphic violence and the elements of surprise and shocks which are injected at regular intervals, this movie keeps itself on level with what the audience is supposed to expect. It also sets the path for a sequel it is to be seen if such a thing can make it to the theatres.

Release date: 4th January 2013
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tania Raymonde, Tremaine Neverson, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Bill Moseley

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Spring Breakers

“I will drink Life to the lees” said the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a lifestyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. In an attempt to maximize pleasure, and keeping the pain and worries away, there is this chaos which is the side-effect of this pleasure-seeking, and Spring Breakers deals with such an effect. The loss of values, traditions and religion in the contemporary world is given a shocking reflection. It is also a satire on all those “finding ourselves” nonsense which has been thrown on us. The modern life might be empty enough without these, but are these not another group of visages of vanity?

The movie begins with a spring break beach party and goes back college attended by four friends, Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brittany (Ashley Benson), and Cotty (Rachel Korine). Candy, Brittany and Cotty despises their normal life at the college and spend their spare time smoking, drinking and partying, while Faith is part of a religious group for the youth in which she seems to be a reluctant participant and finds her world horribly monotonous. When the spring break arrives, the four friends decide to go on their best ever, and enjoy it like never before, but they find themselves terribly short of money. Candy, Brittany and Cotty commit armed robbery at a restaurant and finds enough money to make the trip. Despite of her religious friends warning her about the three friends, Faith decides to accompany the trio in the trip. After reaching Florida, the girls attend wild beach parties and indulge in various unruly activities, and the scene skips to the present when the situation goes and reaches a girls gone wild environment. So much for the shocking mirror of the so called modernity, which is a disturbing world captured in slow-motion.

But after spending a lot of their time in cocaine and alcohol, they are arrested, and taken to the cell and spends two nights in jail, and when all hopes are lost, they are unexpectedly bailed out by Alien (James Franco), a local rapper, a Brittany Spears fan and a gangster who had become very interested in the girls, and calls them “different from the rest”. But as he takes them to one of his usual hangout places, and Faith becomes more and more uncomfortable with his attitude, lifestyle and his friends. Despite his attempts to convince her to stay telling her that he likes her a lot and they would have fun, she decides to leave. But her friends decide to stay despite her begging them to accompany her. They are introduced into Alien’s criminal world full of glamour and money, as they become his partners in crime or soulmates as he would call them, dressed and maked in pink and armed with guns, performing more and more armed robberies not just for the monet, but also for the fun of inflicting the pain and the thrills and advanture associated with it. All these finally leads to Cotty being shot on the arm by a rival gang and returning home as a result of the trauma. But the two girls and Alien decides to stay, continue what they started and seek revenge even as everyone is going back to school, along with taking their relationship to a new level – so the spring break continues.

So, that is how it goes, depicting spring break as an escape from reality, into another world, and two of the girls decides to continue in it, with one leaving when she realizes what is going to happen and the other when she comes to her senses about what is really happening. Then the question would be about reality, and where would one need to escape into. They girls chose the world of drugs, alcohol, sex and violence, rather than something which could have revived them spiritually. From the words of Faith: “It was really great. I think we found ourselves here. We finally got to see some other parts of the world. We saw some beautiful things here. Things we’ll never forget. We got to let loose. God, I can’t believe how many new friends we made. Friends from all over the place. I mean everyone was so sweet here. So warm and friendly. I know we made friends that will last us a lifetime. We met people who are just like us. People the same as us. Everyone was just trying to find themselves. It was way more than just having a good time. We see things different now. More colors, more love, more understanding. God, it’s so nice to get a break from my uni for a little while. I know we have to go back to school, but we’ll always remember this trip. Something so amazing, magical. Something so beautiful. Feels as if the world is perfect. Like it’s never gonna end.”

Consider this and think about the fact that Selena Gomez’ Faith is the only girl out there with some sense left in her. Even she considers that world as “warm and friendly”, the things there as “amazing, magical and beautiful” and people there as “just like us”. Her concept of “colour, love and understanding” were entirely disturbing for someone with a strong religious background. Her desire was change and escape from the monotonous world, and she needed to be awakened. She herself says “I’m starting to think this is the most spiritual place I’ve ever been”; and what she needed was a spiritual awakening, not a physical one. Despite of knowing that the three girls stole the money for the vacation, she still decides to stay, and needed a bigger jolt of being arrested and taken to the gangster world so as to come to know that she was wrong all the time, and it was not the world which she wished for. Selena’s portrayal of the comparatively good girl has been a sweet one. Right from the beginning, when she gets into the bikini with her friends, it seems clear that she is the misfit with her body as well as the expressions, but her role is that of substance, and her character does something other than being crazy and wild, which is to think. But the question would remain if she needed this much of a backlash to get away from her so called friends?

Cotty (Rachel Korine) is the next person to come into her senses and she required to be shot on the arm for the same. She would seem like the sexually charged person of the gang, as the sole female wet, wearing nothing but her panty and surrounded by males in a room throughout the spring break, while her friends spend their time together. But after getting shot, she shows that everything was just a mask of being the strong, smart and sexy lady to be part of the gang. But Brittany (Ashley Benson) and Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) takes the same to the next level, beginning a sexual relationship with Alien (James Franco) as well as taking the violence to another stage. Vanessa Hudgens seems to have shed her cute Disney image completely with this one, and Ashley Benson seems to rule the movie as the most gorgeous of the gang as well as the most beautiful. The final two form the best of the bad girls, with no remorse about anything they have done, and still hanging onto their idea, of pretending that it is a video game or a movie. James Franco is big revolution, and as the rapping hunk who takes the girls under his wing, he looks so different in his looks, his way of talking and his style that nobody might recognize him if not told. He is the Mephistopheles of this morality tale, and even as Faith lives upto her name and suvives the temptation, and Cotty repents as he realizes the horror, the two remaining ones – the “soulmates” are damned with their soul. In this age when tradition has disappeared, and religion takes the exit, such things tend to be stronger than ever.

Well, this movie might look like just a random party show, but what does this tale come up with? It is a morality tale covered in bikinis, as it gives us a horrifying look into the present day culture which has gone to that path which is nothing less than the worst of all hedonism. It is a twisted allegory towards contemporary culture. It is a take on the contemporary world of loose morals and the absence of faith which they lost with the return of Faith, and remorse which they lose with the return of Cotty. There is a Don Juan and there is a Doctor Faustus in all humans beyond the ability for denial, but there is a limit to how far that takes one, and as long as Spring Breakers are concerned, they have taken it to the limits, from the monotonous life to seeking change, they have taken the forbidden path, but still, they are not judged. The new generation has been lost, as it would say, or the most of it. The inherent evil in man has taken control more powerfully. This one can’t work as a morality tale though, as there is a lot of strong outer covering. But what it can do is that it can shock the audience into taking a look into the contemporary world of late night parties, drugs and booze which has taken over the teenage girls, and its raw reflection is Spring Breakers. This shock has been used in a simple manner in Papilio Buddha, the Malayalam movie, but in Spring Breakers, they use it in an exaggerated, twisted manner, but the result is that they surely shock the audience into understanding the terror that is modern culture, with sadness and depression. They could have done without the repeated uncomfortable images, but this is still a different movie using a different style.

Release date: 22nd March 2013
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco, Gucci Mane

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Percy Jackson II

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In an overwhelming desire to find myself fair about this movie, I have to confess that I watched The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones right after watching this – it was a back-to-back movie adventure separated only by the desire to have lunch and the need to travel from one mall to the other. If you don’t need to know more about it, and the two movies in relation to each other, you are free to skip the first two paragraphs, an offer of escape from comparisons which includes this paragraph. In a simple comparison of no great intellect, our reviewed movie is more of a follower of the Harry Potter pattern, with a world for the demigods away from the original world, with its major base on magic and the individual and collective inner strength and righteousness which they exhibit while facing big powers; but the second movie has more similarities with Twilight, with a female protagonist who is just a boring ordinary girl who is introduced into another world which is hidden among the known human world and is once again caught in a triangular love between herself and two other guys, both belonging to different species.

So the other fantasy movie of the day has a good amount of Constantine, Underworld and surely, the most of dominant of them all, Twilight. To make it look more of a formidable power, it has added the horror elements, and there was demons, vampires and werewolves, the three creatures whom we never thought would come along in herds in the same movie, an absurd improvement on Underworld and Twilight which has surely backfired, despite of the presence of the lovely leading actress who can act incredibly well, Lily Collins who has done a great job. But with a little visual effects, horror and action, the movie runs out of gas. It is there that Percy Jackson scores. The two movies were released on the same day here, along with We’re the Millers, and the advantage would surely go with Sea of Monsters, as it doesn’t come with an “A” certificate unlike the others, and it is in 3D. The theatres seem to have realized the same too, as they have put more shows for the movie, and it is the only English movie in more than one theatres this week.

Even as it is difficult to set aside the great performance of the beautiful Lily Collins, lets leave the absurdity which was the half-baked bad mixture of all the fantasy works ever produced, which was The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and move on to the movie of the week, which is Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Our movie doesn’t deal with forbidden love and has no apples or people with bad tooth unless they are monsters. May be that should be reserved for Twilight copies, and there might be a time when the apples begin to keep the viewers away rather than the doctors. The best thing about Percy Jackson is that it sticks to the basics. It takes the legends from the Greek Mythology, but it maintains a formula which is not at all ambiguous and more true to the core. It doesn’t rely on anything strange or unnecessary to give temporary satisfaction with any teenage fantasy which doesn’t go well with the plot and the flow of the story. It doesn’t try to give pleasure to anyone suffering from the withdrawal symptoms, which is mostly a Twilight withdrawal rather than from the intellectually superior Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter series.

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) no longer seems to have the popularity that he might have had with him getting back the lightning bolt, saving both the Olympus and the world, and such great stuff which were to become legends. Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin) is his constant rival to glory, as she beats him in almost all the competitions. As Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), announces his plans to destroy Mount Olympus by bringing back Kronos from Tartarus and sends a mechanical bull to attack the demi-god camp after poisoning Thalia Grace (Paloma Kwiatkowski) who is the tree which defends the camp with a magic forcefield. Even as Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario) is the one who finds out that the Golden Fleece could heal and restore the tree, Clarisse is sent to retrieve the artefact much to the dismay of Percy, Annabeth and Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson). But the trio decides to follow the team led by Clarisse, and they are joined by Percy’s half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), who is a cyclops. They also have one prophecy and a group of rogue half-bloods supported by a Manticore, and one big cyclops guarding the fleece to deal with.

With no denial of credit to one Lily Collins who had tried in vain to restore order among chaos and absurdity in the other fantasy movie, lets move into our characters. Logan Lerman leads the team as Percy Jackson, a demigod and the son of the God of Ocean, Poseidon. He was there in the 2011 version of The Three Musketeers, and here is he is again, and it surely seems to be a familiar territory for him. It is a honest performance from all angles. Brandon T. Jackson as Grover Underwood makes sure that there is no dull moment in the movie, along with Douglas Smith as Tyson the Cyclops. Most of the funny moments of the movie are from these two, and they are really good, and never inappropriate. Alexandra Daddario plays Annabeth Chase, the demigod daughter of Athena, the Godess of Wisdom, and this is one supporting character that you will remember for a long time, despite of the romantic angle kept away in the movie completely. She does have that look too, of that intensity which is kept in check by the heavenly wisdom. She was that good in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief too, and continues the good work.

Leven Rambin is Clarisse La Rue, the arrogant, hot-tempered daughter of the war God, Ares – always looking for combat, and at at the same time finding Percy a threat to her supremacy. After seeing her in The Hunger Games as the District 1 tribute, and the strong contender Glimmer, there was a certainty, that she was going to be great in such roles, and here she is, leading a group of undead who served her father Ares. As the story progresses, her character turns out to be more dynamic, along with adding to the funny as well as the action elements of the movie. There is the suiting depiction of the contrast between the daughter of this God of War and the Goddess of Wisdom. There is no point where the two are similar, and being the daughter of the great War God, she shares nothing in common with all the others out there, with Paloma Kwiatkowski’s Thalia Grace, of the demigod daughter of Zeus still pending. Jake Abel’s Luke Castellan, the demigod son of Hermes is a continuation of what was there in the first part of the movie. Nathan Fillion’s Hermes is a short, but effective presence which stays throughout the movie.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters has taken over at a time when the book-based fantasy novels are on the decline. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has proved to follow the path of The Host, and clearly stay with Twilight. The Harry Potter series have finished and Lord of the Rings and Narnia are taking a slow path. There is the need for something similar to fill in, and here is Percy Jackson. With its superior and appropriate 3D effects and the well done action sequences supported by the visual imagery, there is no loss of moments spent for watching this movie. There are also the funny lines, but it denies itself a big chance to take some risks, as it follows the conventional path, never to stray away from it. But, there is a huge amount of honesty in this path which is without any ambiguity, and there is absolutely no attempt to complicate things. The whole thing is kept simple, and as the endoskeleton comes from the Greek Mythology and a little bit of the Harry Potter series, this is a bankable movie which most of the critics need to stop overthinking. It is time to have some fun and at the same time, recollect those days of learning the Greek Mythology.

Release date: 7th August 2013 (United States); 30th August 2013 (India)
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson, Paloma Kwiatkowski, Jake Abel, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Douglas Smith, Anthony Head, Robert Maillet, Derek Mears, Aleks Paunovic, Missi Pyle, Yvette Nicole Brown, Mary Birdsong

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.