Captain Phillips

captainphillips (5)

There are only two a few movies which delivers almost in the same manner as the critics say; and we have had two in the gap on one month, which were Rush and Gravity; to that list, here comes Captain Phillips. It is easy to brand a movie as bad and the flick can easily live up-to that bad reputation; but when the critics say a movie is exceptional, there are only a few movies which actually prove them right for the common audience, and Captain Phillips is such a movie. There are so many movies branded as bad by the critics which were actually either good or bad, and there were others which were somehow branded good; but when we talk about this movie along with the other two I mentioned earlier, there would be a uniformity in this branding, and they are exceptional, no matter how we look at them; and who looks at them from which angle and on which day. Welcome to the thirty days of awesomeness from Hollywood, with the exception of Runner Runner – this was a month which started with the first two movies rating 57/200 together, and the last two rated 177/200; it is a strange month indeed!

Our first idea was to leave this movie behind, but that had to change. It was not just the reviews that did it, as it was more about the brilliance of Rush which we had earlier ignored brought to me. It almost completely took away the need to watch a movie which worked on familiar or more interesting background. So this is more of a biopic of Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somalian pirates in the Indian Ocean in 2009; we used to wonder – how is it going to work out? We had already watched a Tamil movie in the form of Maryan which had a hostage situation involving armed men from Sudan. Even as it turned out to be good, there were lot of things lacking in there as it scored just with the visuals, music and the right cast. It had stuck to the love theme in quite an unrealistic manner, and there it lost the footing a bit. Here we have another situation, and here we have Tom Hanks, along with the most realistic portrayal which is more focused on one thing rather than too many unnecessary exaggerated things which were praised to the heavens in the form of love and a lot like the same.

Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is the captain of MV Maersk Alabama in its journey from Oman to Kenya. There is the high chance of being attacked by pirates of Somalia, and they take enough precautions, even keeping two groups of pirates away as they use deception of an airstrike arriving and also the waves of the ship itself to keep the groups away. The first group gets frightened and the second gets the boat’s engine out of order. One of the two groups of pirates return on the next day led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) in a faster boat, carrying a quickly prepared ladder. In spite of the valiant efforts of the crew with pumps and waves, they get on board with the rusty ladder, after taking advantage of a faulty pump, capturing the captain and two others while the rest of the crew keeps themselves safe in the ship’s engine room. Muse hopes to keep the ship for asking for insurance money from the shipping company, and in case of a failure he has to answer to his bosses. About fourty or fourty five minutes into the movie, the ship has already been captured by the pirates.

As the crew capture the pirate leader, they are able to get the pirates into the ship’s lifeboat, but they manage to take Phillips with them as they go into the water in hope for getting some ransom money for the captain. The second half of the movie is about the life in that one orange boat and the efforts of the navy to get the captain back. The ship keeps following the lifeboat until the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge arrives, followed by two other ships of combat. The pirates also lose contact with their mother boat and decides to go all the way to Somalia which the U.S. Navy ships can’t allow. As the pirates know that they have come too far to quit right now, the navy is ordered not to let them get to the land at any cost. Phillips’ efforts to reason with the pirates is in vain and so is his effort to swim away from them to one of the ships. They ask for money in millions for which the navy asks for time. Meanwhile, the SEAL shooters are trying to get shots to take down the pirates. The hostage situation gets worse as the pirates gets impatient and restless. The question would be about how they take care of the situation keeping the hostage alive and how the captain himself manages to keep him alive and in his senses.

As you might have already guessed, this is the movie of Tom Hanks. He depicts his character with such sincerity which is rarely seen on screen. I have known him for Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Appollo 13, Catch Me If You Can, Saving Private Ryan and The Terminal, but from now on-wards I shall know him first for this movie than any other. Yes, there are many other movies of class, but this is the one for now, to be discussed a lot and to be thought about a lot along with all that admiration which it gained with the claps in the theatre, even as it was not that loud as what Rush has managed even with a lesser audience. Tom Hanks is Richard Phillips, a man in charge of a ship and the captain who is taken as a hostage in a lifeboat, beaten up and almost killed by the pirates. There is no doubt left in the mind of the viewers about that. He lives through that experience rather than act with the tide. The portrayal of the leading character is worth the applause as he is a common man, an average person who does nothing heroic to be exact, just what is necessary and what was indeed the right thing. He doesn’t create a spectacle, but lives through that perfectly.

Even as we would never come to know the exact events of the Maersk Alabama hijacking and the Richard Phillips hostage crisis of 2009, the film’s version shall stand as the version that we know. It might not be perfect or close enough that perfection which one can imagine while watching such a movie inspired by true events. The movie has to be applauded for how much it has kept close to a realistic depiction of a ship hijacking and a hostage crisis though, without any exaggeration or stuff for the fans. In spite of the same, the movie is still thrilling, something I had my doubts about. The movie does have the moments of slowing down and repetitions, which can’t be denied, but those moments are very less. The climax scene is really good, and Tom Hanks as well as the actors who played the pirates go through that tense situation very well. The movie does put a strong value on the lives of one human, and places it as the central point. One would be left to wonder how many governments of the world would value the lives of their citizens this much. By the end, the humanity shall turn out victorious as most us already know from what we read from the internet.

Taking the action back from the thrilling climax, I would say that the moments in the ship was the best. What came between the time from the arrival of the SEALs and the negotiation with the pirate leader was a bit of slow and slightly dragging – still not something worth putting the blame on. Here we also have the realistic depiction of piracy, and it is a good reminder to those pirate loving fans of Pirates of the Carribean fans. There is no Captain Jack Sparrow when talking about it, and its time one stops heavily romanticizing vampires, werewolves and pirates just because some books or movies had such depictions. But the movie doesn’t fail to bring out how much of a situation the pirates are caught within, between their bosses and the risk of being murdered or caught by the armed forces. Piracy might remain a cause of concern for a long time, and this movie takes a realistic look into it, asserting the need to get rid of it. One last word would be about Barkhad Abdi who played the pirate leader Abduwali Muse – a great effort indeed; smart, intense and still funny at times; saying that he loves America and wants to live there for the rest of his life. This one is surely a strong contender for some Academy awards next year – along with Gravity and Rush.

Release date: 11th October 2013
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, David Warshofsky, Corey Johnson, Chris Mulkey, Yul Vazquez, Max Martini, Omar Berdouni, Mohamed Ali, Issak Farah Samatar

captainphillip copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Rush

rush (2)

✠ I have never been a fan of Formula One Racing, and my expectation about this movie has been very low due to the area on which this movie works, but this actually turned out to be a pleasant surprise. There are only a few sports movies which have caught my attention including Goal, Bend it Like Beckam and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal – all three dealing with the same soccer game, and therefore I have a little bit of aversion towards sports drama movies despite of liking a good number of biographical movies. Now the question would remain – how come Rush turned out to be so different that I decided to watch the same? What is in the movie which features a s sport which I am hundred percent not interested in, and what was there before I watched it? It was one of my friends who made that decision for me, even as I was thinking about Captain Philips which was newer with better critical ratings and adjustable show timing – but we decided to choose this one, and that turned out to be a very good decision in the end, a happy finish indeed.

Count Dracula: Here you are again. I think that your review of Dark Shadows has been pending for long. Do you have it with you? But from the way you have driven all the way here, it seems that you have something about racing with you. I thought you were a slow driver, and I rarely see you go above fifty five kilometres per hours – don’t you usually stay below fifty?

Vampire Bat: I can see that you feel the need for some good vampires like Barnabas Collins and Victoria Winters. But that would take some waiting, and I am hoping to write about it in November if possible, otherwise in December. And you guessed it right. The whole thing is all about racing, and it is the movie Rush, which took me almost a month to watch after I came to knew how good it is, and thanks to the new multiplexes it still had just one show remaining in all the multiplexes and local theatres together and I successfully pounced on the same.

Count Dracula: Do you mean to see that you watched a Formula One movie and understood something? Is it based on real life characters? How much exaggeration is put into it so that they could blur the reality?

Vampire Bat: Lets leave that exaggeration to Bollywood nonsense like Chak De! India. Rush scores a million times better than any of the pseudo-sports movies of Bollywood. If you haven’t seen this movie, you are missing something of the real sports drama, of fine quality. I might never rate any sports movies this high, ever. It takes us to the 1976 Formula One season with all the emphasis on the rivalry between the two drivers, McLaren’s James Hunt and Ferrari’s Niki Lauda which begins with a smaller race in the 1970s and going on to the 1976 season with incredible power.

Count Dracula: What do you know about Formula One and a race which actually happened before you were born? Even after you were born, when was the first time you really knew something about a car? When was the first time you really liked a sport, especially something other than cricket and may be football and wrestling in the form of that British Bull Dog – Undertaker starring entertainment?

Vampire Bat: I have known not much expect for a few names like Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. I had one of my friends with me who explained a lot, and the rest I had read a lot before going for the movie. I have no real job these days and I can afford to read a lot, including a lot of blogs and a lot of information on sports, this time including Formula One racing which never really interested me even as a computer game, but this movie did.

Count Dracula: How did you enjoy the movie then? Didn’t you feel like a vampire out of his coffin or like a Count out of his castle? What you read is not what you like, and for someone who hasn’t watched even one motor sport fully, how will that turn out? Don’t put me into the equation though, as I am against all these things which pollute environment. The humans have their superstition called science, and I have my own supernatural abilities, and they don’t run on some non-renewable resource which you waste with such things instead of reserving them for daily travel only.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I have always thought that they should rather decrease the price of petrol and diesel rather than wasting all these fuel contributing to the rise in fuel prices which steals the life out of the common man and throws a lot into the pockets of the rich. It is surely one of those sports of the rich and for the rich; more against the whole concept of equality and socialism becoming the rich man’s game, even more than Golf. You already know that I am personally against speed, as I do not like this concept of driving fast and racing which negatively inspires the brainless new generation to drive too fast and cause all those accidents along with burning all the fuel.

Count Dracula: You get the point for sure, but most of these people won’t. Isn’t it dangerous enough too? I heard about that ten seconds advertisement which comes before the movies, telling people about driving. I would say that this driving fast is more of the troublemaker than anything else. I would say that you must drive slowly rather than get inspired by all these racing stuff.

Vampire Bat: It is one of such danger that the movie itself talks about. There are these two people, both looking for the big prize, and one of them is the hedonist and the other the perfectionist, and as the former takes the big risk and races against the worst conditions, the latter realizes that winning isn’t everything after having a big accident and makes a quick comeback even in the immense pain and suffering, a moment when he takes the big decision to choose life over danger, that decision which might have made him comeback next year with a big championship win while the former never won again and finally retired too soon. It is the victory of the man who wanted to win it once and prove his worth, while it is also the victory of the man who could know his passion and his life rather than just winning.

Count Dracula: That sounds like powerful stuff. I never really believed in winning myself – there has never been any point. It should be really worthless for mortals; at least I can keep it with me forever – what would these people do with all these?

Vampire Bat: To die and be dust, but to live in fame, that is for sure. James Hunt and Niki Lauda have been incredibly well portrayed by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl respectively. I especially loved the latter, both the character and the portrayal, as it is that character who has left his whole for the racing and even in all the pain and suffering, he came back to race with his burns and bruises, and makes one wonder if the former would have won any championship if the latter was active throughout – a lot of respect for the latter and the way in which he is shown – we fall in love with the characters rather than the Formula One Racing; there lies the irony in it. I won’t like the game, and I shall never even have a look into it. But I admire Niki Lauda for what he has done despite what he has gone through, and for James Hunt, it is a wonderful portrayal by Chris Hemsworth, but not a character of my preference. Still, we like them both and the actors who do the job well.

Count Dracula: Too much for me, thats for sure. I would rather watch some horse racing or bullock-cart racing without bring cruel to any vampire horse or vampire bull. But, let me tell you that I feel the need to watch the movie even as I might never get to do the same. Thank you for bringing this to me, and I shall think about going on a race with the wind the next time I go out. Did you like the racing sequences, by the way?

Vampire Bat: I didn’t really find any interest i them, and that is negative thing about watching such a movie when not being a fan. I liked almost everything outside the racing though, especially the one when Niki Lauda gets his fans to get him and his future wife a lift after an engine trouble, when he decides to marry her and when James Hunt gives the reporter some beating in support of his rival. Alexandra Maria Lara was also excellent in her role, even as Olivia Wilde had lesser role to play.

Count Dracula: So, this one is a must watch, and another one which adds to your good run along with Gravity and Escape Plan. I shall keep that in mind, just for the sake of it. May be I can also talk about it to some lost human soul who comes this way.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is worth your time for sure, and all those souls are going to love it. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now. May the shadows be with you.

Vampire Bat (to himself): I am fully in support of this movie mostly due to the great performance of Daniel Brühl, and then due to the good work put into it by Chris Hemsworth whom we know more as Thor who beats up people with a hammer and complete with all the supernatural traits. Here, we have that true sports drama which wins both the hearts and the brains with its depiction of a sports rivalry which scores with its realistic depiction and the closeness to the facts. I wish this was a sport which I followed, or rather liked a bit; but that is not the case, but there are not many other movies which shall overtake this movie, and I am more than just confident about that.

Rush might be thought as a movie just for the Formula One fans, but I would not feel so. It may be heaven for them, but it is still the next best thing for the rest. The movie is not just about racing, and those are the moments in the race track which I don’t really like – the other things include achieving your goal as if it is the only thing you need to do in your life, like James Hunt or living for something which is not really a goal but an everlasting passion in which winning isn’t everything, a lesson taught by Niki Lauda. There are always two sides to everything, to live for the moment or to live in the moments – when winning once is all that one tries for, or be ready to give up with the realization that winning is not everything, as there is always another way as life and your loved ones are more important. But there is no judgement or the perfect good or bad. Even as Chris Hemsworth is there in more posters and it is his character that wins, the applause is a lot more and much deservingly for Daniel Brühl and Niki Lauda, even as the portrayal is more honest and not exaggerated in any manner.

Release date: 20th September 2013
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder as Louis Stanley, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Alistair Petrie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Colin Stinton, Jamie de Courcey, Augusto Dallara, Ilario Calvo, Sean Edwards, Martin J Smith, Rob Austin, Tom Wlaschiha

rush copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Escape Plan

escapeplan (1)

There are only a few occasions which none of the action movie fans would wish to miss, and one of them is when Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger come together in a movie, not as part of an over-packed action movie like The Expendables, but in a flick which is carried on the shoulders by these two actors together. Now that the Rocky and Demolition Man meets The Terminator and Predator again, there is that expectation which brings so many people into the theatres even in the presence of such a visual magnificence like Gravity which hasn’t yet managed to disappear even a little. This is more or less like Freddy vs Jason in disguise, as Terminator with Rambo rather than against; it is that nostalgia which this movie brings to the viewers, even as these two actors might be judged too old by a few people we are familiar with. Yes, Escape Plan is not The Expendables, that is for sure; and it is that one thing which makes this better, even as a few of the action movie fans won’t like this one that much for the same reason.

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a former lawyer who owns a security firm which tests maximum security prisons for their quality and reliability and is helped by Abigail Ross (Amy Ryan) and Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). He spends his life getting himself into prisons and escaping from them, mentioning that his total escape count is fourteen. He is shown to observe the routine and habits of prison guards, create distractions, and also get help from the outside to get himself out of captivity. One day, they are offered a big deal by CIA agent Jessica Miller (Caitriona Balfe) to test a top secret prison used to keep the worst of all criminals of the world. Breslin is reluctant at first, but agrees to the deal and gets himself captured in New Orleans under the name of a terrorist named Portos, but as his tracking micro chip is removed and he is drugged before he is taken into a prison in an unknown location, the plans go out of range and the objective seems nearly impossible.

Breslin wakes up in one of the many glass cells where the prisoners were kept, with no sight of the outside world to know the location. Their world is limited to what can be seen in that area. They even have bar codes attached to their clothes to automatically make sure about their presence at the places where they are supposed to be during the time. There are masked guards all around making sure that nobody gets to know who is working on which day, and to add to that, they rarely talks or shows any remarkable characteristic for them to be remembered. After befriending another inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), he tries getting into two fights with him, the second involving another prisoner, and the latter attempt, he gets out of his cell and reaches the outside, but finds out that he can’t just run away from the prison, and it is not that simple. So they team up with another inmate Javed (Faran Tahir), and under constant guard and strict watch, the question remains if they can make it out of there.

[Spoiler alert for this paragraph] The best moments of the movie include when Breslin makes out of the prison and finds out that he is standing on an oil tanker, in the middle of nowhere, and is forced to go back to his cell the same way he came out. The moment when Rottmayer’s real identity is revealed, is another good twist. One of the other moments have to include that moment when Breslin wakes up to find the kind of twisted maze that the prison is. The escape sequence and the shooting on the deck shows that Arnold Schwarzenegger still manages to make a powerful impact with whatever action sequence he is performing. Now that was the moment which received the most claps in the theatre, and I won’t wonder why it was that sequence which managed them. Well, both of them have a lot of life in them, and even as Stallone is undoubtedly the hero, there is no credit taken away from Schwarzenegger, as right from the moment he lands in prison, the team work begins, and they share the action.

Sylvester Stallone keeps coming back again and again with his days of glory, and here he is as good as he has been. There is nothing lost from his performance, even at this age. But the man who stole the applause was once again Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been loved so much in this part of the world even by those generations who had known only a little about him, thanks to The Terminator, Predator, Commando, Conan the Barbarian, Total Recall, Collateral Damage, The 6th Day, The Running Man, End of Days, Conan the Destroyer, True Lies, Eraser and so many others which still bring a case of nostalgia to the minds of a few, and for others too, they are gems. I can’t really say that Rocky and Rambo had that much of an effect at this part of the world, and Demolition Man as well as Judge Dredd came to the picture pretty late, along with The Specialist. Even as I have admired Arnold Schwarzenegger throughout most of my life, I have to admit that Sylvester Stallone is slowly taking over that admiration with the way in which he has been handling his performance.

Yes, the claps for Schwarzenegger was much awaited, and Stallone deserves his own, even as there was nothing much there from the audience, which might have been surprising for a few. He was incredibly solid throughout the movie, and the way in which he depicted Breslin was more than just good. We remember the former’s earlier comeback as the lone hero in The Last Stand, and people had loved that. Here we see both in the way we always liked them, as action stars, supposed to be old, but still punching much younger people on the nose and shooting them right on the forehead. We might not have dreamed about such moments in the 1990s, but here is the treat for you, as they does what they always did the best. Here are two actors, belonging to the same genre, having acted in somewhat similar kind of movies, with names quite difficult to pronounce for an average man or woman from this part of the world. Well, you can think about many people when they talk about action, including Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Will Smith, but these two are still our best.

So as Sylvester Stallone would say in Judge Dredd, what would the judgement be? Well, it is already almost houseful at this part of the world, and shall run for another week or two for sure, with Insidious: Chapter 2 ready for its release here. This should make way only for Thor: The Dark World only, and none of the regional releases nor the big national releases should threaten its position. With its impressive trailer and the posters, along with the two men who make this movie of clever, but slightly ineffective plot, creates a lot for the audience who should feel that these two are enough to go for this movie. There is no bigger name than Arnold Schwarzenegger here, even after so many years; and after watching this movie, Sylvester Stallone shall be my favourite actor of that age group – and I shall never miss any of his movies, as I expect entertainment to be guaranteed without the lack of too much logic and without the presence of much nonsense. Well done, dear veterans; you haven’t let us down.

Release date: 18th October 2013
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Mikael Håfström
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Curtis Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Faran Tahir, Caitriona Balfe, Matt Gerald

escapeplan copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Gravity

gravity (1)

I have to agree that the wait for gravity has been much long, as the trailer came to the theatres quite early, with not much information available about it. No, it was not one of those movies which I was waiting for, but it became a movie worth waiting for, after having its own transformation from nothing to everything with those highly positive reviews and good word of mouth, and remained in the support of nearly 97% positive reviews in Rotten Tomatoes and 8.9 in IMDb, something which had to result in a rise in the number of viewers in the theatres, and because of that, we had to book our tickets online, not really something we had to do this year in spite of the fact that Iron Man 3 made us do the same, even as Man of Steel had threatened to do the same again and The Wolverine had succeeded in it. Yes, Gravity was to be watched at any cost, and we decided to waste no time, as we approached it the very next day after it was released here to positive reviews.

It has to be noted that the story for this movie is quite simple and lasts no more than one and half hours. We are introduced to Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) on her first space mission, and the veteran space traveller Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) who have almost finished their job when the space waste from a destroyed Russian satellite hits them and everyone except the two are dead. Matt saves Ryan from being lost in the space forever with low level of oxygen, but cuts himself off from her when he feels that it will endanger them both. After getting into the semi-destroyed International space station from their damaged shuttle, she has to use one of the damaged modules to somehow get to a chinese space station, from where she can go back home in their modules. As someone new to the whole thing, and with no communcations to advice her, she has to use more than what she knows to survive and make it back to Earth. It is not the most interesting plots around, but you have to love it for what is shown on the screen.

In the world of extreme science fiction, all these would seem too simple, but not for the realistic environment that the director has attempted to create right here. In an extended world of reality, there would be questions about reality, and one might wonder if this is also real enough. None of us did go to space already, and so this is no lesser unreality than most of the other things which are exaggerated, but the helplessness of the man and the lack of the scientific “supernatural” keeps this close enough to be defined real, even as I consider this to be that much of a work of imagination as any fantasy movie around there, and the chance of all these happening is as much as that of a Hobbit helping a group of Dwarves and a wizard against a dragon, or a young wizard with a scar going to a school hidden from reality. The one thing that denies sorcery here is that there are no superhumans here, and there is no deus ex machina. There is certain amount of role that fate has to play, but more of the job is done by the humans themselves.

There are only two actors in the movie, who are alive and shows their living faces. There are other astronauts for sure along with the voices, and there are dead bodies, and we see one of them floating around in space with almost a transparent face and a few others inside the space-shuttle, providing some moments of small shocks which work quite fine. Sandra Bullock is there or almost the whole time, and she comes up with what might be her best performances so far. She makes this survival movie her own, right from the beginning to the end. The fact that her character is too simple and ordinary, and none of her decisions come from the text books, make this one a dynamic character of infinite proportions in the infinite space of nothingness. George Clooney’s presence is small compared to our protagonist, but when he is there, one can think about, and can feel the awesomeness. The one memorable thing about this character is that there is the knowledge about when to let go and how to make not only his fellow characters in the screen, but also those outside the screen comfortable enough.

The life in infinite space has immense possibilities, and the survival in such a world with nothing to hold onto and and no hope to call or inform anyone for help is more than just another usual distress situation. Open Water and Open Water 2: Adrift made such worlds possible with their protagonists left hopeless in the middle of the ocean, but Gravity takes further steps into such helplessness when there is not even water, earth or any living creature nearby, and there is not even that distant hope of someone coming to help or trying to swim in order to reach somewhere. So, here comes the use of 3D. The Hindi movie Warning which was inspired from Open Water 2: Adrift tried some luck with it, but as we have seen before, it is rarely used effectively. But Gravity scores there with its spectacular use of 3D and all the resources which are available. It creates that connection with the audience with its 3D and visual effects, and it is that beauty on the screen and the technology that makes this one close enough to a beautiful thriller.

It is an experience worthy of being watched on the big screen. It is indeed one of the best visually stunning 3D experiences ever. The first person shots and the detail of the world requires special mention, as it takes the viewers closer to that experience of space, its beauty and its terrors. The magic of cinema in the theatre begins here, again with this “cine-magic”, or rather it started with the trailer of The Hobbit: Desolation of the Smaug. In spite o all these, Gravity will struggle to impress most of the viewers if watched on television or DVD, and that is a sure thing. If I had waited and watched this on another smaller medium, I might have just given this something around sixty five to sixty nine out of one hundred. There is that need to watch this with all its powers, and a smaller screen and the lack of 3D can only create that situation of being handicapped, and I would wonder why anyone would wish to watch a movie that is restricted to being half the flick that it is, when all its power lies in something and is stripped of the same.

There are still more that the viewers can ask for. On the local level, it is the presence of more shows, as it was there in just two multiplexes here; not something expected for such a movie; may be they scrapped it for movies which had stars who were more famous in this part of the world. On a more global needed, there was the need for more of George Clooney, a little bigger plot and thus a longer movie. But those are more of desires rather than needs. Gravity is pretty much exceptional in what it has achieved, even if it has done so not in a way that most of the viewers might have wanted it to. The movie itself works on the lack of gravity than gravity itself, just like it denies itself the opportunity to be just another exaggerated science fiction or a violent thriller. It defies all conventions and keeps faith on technology and the magic that is cinema, and thus honours all its viewers as well as its predecessors. There is the need for movies like Gravity, as without it, we might fail to understand the power of a medium such as cinema.

Release date: 11th October 2013 (India); 4th October 2013 (US)
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney (+emptiness, darkness, void and corpses)

gravity copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Runner Runner

runnerrunner (6)

✠ This was a week blessed by no releases which came out with a good critical reception, and the after-effects of that movie Besharam was haunting me. It re-iterated the need for a good movie, and I had high expectations about this flick, but those waxen wings were burnt yet again, and therefore it is necessary that Count Dracula take over half of those expectations. This has been a bad beginning to a month which starts with Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday right on the second day, and considering the fact that I had to watch Besharam on that day was sad, and as I add this movie’s score to, the total should be 57/200 which is undoubtedly the worst beginning I ever had to a month this year. With that sadness concerning a month which might not rise in quality much if an average is taken, I have to take you back to the legendary vampire.

Count Dracula: So you are back. You had Jumper, Sinister, Offender, Parker, Looper and now Runner; that too twice. The names of the movies are indeed strange. Among those movies ending with -er I would have preferred those less complicated ones like Hellraiser, Dreamcatcher, Outlander and the inverted version ending with -re, possibly with the word “vampire”.

Vampire Bat: I can see that the absence of Twilight movies are bringing you back into this world. Yes, the title is Runner Runner, and it is good that they had chosen such a title, as the movie drags a lot in between and it is a good thing that people get to know that it is running.

Count Dracula: Do you mean to see that a movie which was so much awaited, a flick which has Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton is quite bad and doesn’t deserve to be watched?

Vampire Bat: That would be pure nonsense. I am surely recommending this one, even as not that much as most of those other movies of the earlier weeks; and this movie might be the winner of this week which was plagued by Besharam and is not supported by any superstar movies from Malayalam industry. Runner Runner might not win by a big margin considering the number of people who were present in the theatre even during the best time of a semi-holiday, but if there is a movie which needs some appreciation among those released this week, it is this movie. The critics might have panned it a little too much in my opinion, for this is no Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance.

Count Dracula: Why did you have to remind me of that movie? Wasn’t the reminder about Twilight and Besharam enough for the day. You always ruin my day like those wood elves. I need to eat a hobbit, but that would take some time too.

Vampire Bat: That should be mainly because I am not here to make you listen to what you want to hear. But let me tell you that this movie scores with its cast. Its greatest advantage remains Justin Timberlake. He was good in Bad Teacher, and I loved his performances in Friends With Benefits and In Time. Here also, he is really good, but his character is let down by the story which goes on through the predictable lines and even as they seem to promise for some surprises at times, there is nothing risky in a gambling movie, and when they don’t dare to do that in a movie which is all about taking risk and gambling, that is a real shame.

Count Dracula: It doesn’t make any sense that you have not started talking about Gemma Arterton. What about her? Her presence in Byzantium makes me wish to go back to the civilized world again. I had heard that they didn’t release that movie in your land. They should be really evil, as it is one of the best things which has happened to the vampire world since my last bloodbath.

Vampire Bat: Yes, she has been an unavoidable force for me from the days of Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and finally Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters this year. But I didn’t like her that much in this movie as I expected. She was pretty and did all that she was supposed to do, but one has to wonder what purpose has her character really served in the movie by coming out of nowhere at regular intervals. Yes, she makes me ask for sequels to both Prince of Persia and Hansel and Gretel, but not for this one.

Count Dracula: You don’t need to say that Ben Affleck was good, as I have known that already. I am not predicting what you saw in the theatre, or what was to happen, but I am pretty much confident about that. I am not sceptical about his upcoming role as Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel either, as most of the people are. He has been Daredevil and he can be Batman. Matt Murdock can be Bruce Wayne, and not every Batman needs to be the same.

Vampire Bat: You are very good at taking words out of the mouth of others, and this is no exception. Yes, the three people forms the pillars of the movie, and the two male characters run the show. Gemma’s character could have had a lot more to do, but I guess we can’t have a Gretel or Tamina every time. Still, there is no denying that the scope for such a character in a movie like this is almost limitless.

Count Dracula: I am not a gambler, my friend. Neither am I a gangster. So, my interest in such a movie is limited. I am rather a vampire who often forgets to brush my teeth and visit a dentist. How did the gambling side work out with you? And does it have enough blood?

Vampire Bat: No, it is far behind in action, and therefore also the blood. Its adult certificate is for the sexual content which is censored at this part of the world, and the near absence of clothes is more of fashion, and I didn’t see those people who came to watch the movie with families leaving, and therefore the lingerie stuff should be okay with them. I would wonder if the gambling side worked at most of the theatres in this part of the world though, as most of us are not aware of the thing properly. But did Justin Timberlake’s character narrate between action to make it known better? I don’t think so.

Count Dracula: So tell me how does it end? Don’t throw the spoiler at me, but still let me know about it. I shall buy only the DVD of that movie, and I have to know the whole thing a little better.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is about a student who loses all his money to an online gambling game, and after coming to know that he was cheated, goes to Costa Rica to find the owner of the site and confront him only to taken to his side. He is romantically linked to the former lady love of the man and is bothered by the FBI to assist them in finding proof for taking the lord of gambling into custody. There are enough suspicions and double-crossing stuff to deal with, and the climax is pretty good.

Count Dracula: So, Runner Runner is worth a watch, and I surely have to get that DVD. I shall look for it the next time I go to the goblin market. If I can’t find it there, it shall be upon you to get that to me.

Vampire Bat: I shall still recommend this one if you are going for a movie this weekend. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now. May the shadows be with you.

Vampire Bat (to himself): I am fully in support of this movie in the form of a DVD, as an uncut version, and if you also live in such a part of the world where the options are the same as mine, go for this movie in the theatre. The beauty of Costa Rica and the three leading actors might be enough to make your day as this is a shameless week for us as far as movies are considered.

✠ For a Malayalam movie fan, this flick brings back the memories of Jose Praksh’s “muthala kunjungal”, for our dear antagonist has crocodiles as pets and feeds them very well, and there is a scene involving him almost feeding his opponents to the creatures in water. Well, this movie doesn’t go to crocodiles of Lake Placid, nor does it goes to the dinosaur of Jurassic Park. With a better plot and a better characterization of Gemma’s character, the three could have done wonders here. Do keep the ears ready for some good lines in the movie, and be prepared for half a fun ride which might be enough for some and not at all working for others. The movie is that much of a gamble that you have to take as it happens inside, and there is a big chance that this will come up okay, and a slight chance that this won’t work at all – there is much lesser chance of this impressing you to the core. Next time, I hope that when they make a thriller, there would me more risks taken and big twists explored, rather than going in a straight path as if it is a drama movie. It is a short movie, both in content and in running time, and may be it is for the good.

Release date: 4th October 2013
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Brad Furman
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, David Costabile, Sam Palladio, Oliver Cooper, Ben Schwartz

runnerrunne copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hobbit

thehobbitt (4)

✠ This shall be the second review that features the major excerpts from the fictional interview with Count Dracula by the Vampire Bat during the last unreal full moon night. Any relation to any person living, dead, undead, going to die, half-dead, partially alive or those is not intentional, and if you are looking for an original review of serious nature, do not read. To add to it, I once again add that no vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters or aliens (both Avatar blue and general green) were harmed while this interview was going on. These are one of those movies about which Count Dracula should surely have a say considering its nature. The format of my earlier review of Hotel Transylvania (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/hotel-transylvania/) is to be used here, but as the world has changed, both the Vampire Bat, Count Dracula and the nature of the dialogues between them are prone to undergo some changes. They are still brethren, and of the same race which have blood shake quite often.

Count Dracula: Welcome, brother bat. Its been a long time. I am still suffering from the effects of Twin-date, New Moan, Ellipsis and Breaking Teeth with a constant fear of a Midnight Bun which might release some day. Every time I think about those books and movies, I feel so weakened and depressed that I want to go and watch that recently released Bollywood movie Besharam and throw myself from the top of a cliff. It is a sad thing that I can fly and I might never reach the ground, otherwise it would have been an awesome idea.

Vampire Bat: I can see that you have gotten better as the Twilight movie series has ended. Your kind do have a small role to play in Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and it is a pathetic depiction for sure, but as the story itself is so bad, and there are too many creatures taken right out of nonsense, you might not be affected by that.

Count Dracula: Don’t talk about that, for it burns so much – just the name of that series itself. I was in good terms with the Shadow Demons until this series of novels came into existence. Now they won’t talk to me because orcs and goblins are laughing at them after watching the movie and reading the novels, and the demonic version is that it is my dirty plot against them to create a future unholy alliance with humanity.

Vampire Bat: I had to watch that movie City of Bones. Most of the people in the theatre wanted to get out and run for their lives, but just because the AC was good and most of them had already ordered food, they stayed. The others just wanted to make efficient use of their tickets and the rest just wanted to see the lovely Lily Collins. Did you just talk about orcs and goblins? That reminds me of something; even as this was actually supposed to be a secret talk about the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones which was not to come to light, why can’t this be a discussion about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, one of the best movies of the year 2012, even as I know that you find The Cabin in the Woods as the best of them all? Then, I can also publish this review rather than just keep it for further reference.

Count Dracula: I know why you are changing the topic. With The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug right around the corner, you wish to write about this movie so that you can remember that movie which you watched last year, and be prepared for this upcoming sequel. You can also make sure that you have written about the first movie before getting into this sequel, the same reason why you wrote about The Hunger Games earlier. I am such a bloody genius with awesome fangs, right?

Vampire Bat: That should be partially right. I watched The Hobbit just a few days ago in Sony Pix, as I missed it in the theatres due to reasons that I can’t remember. I had to miss a few parts of the movie due to frequent power cuts and some disturbing phone calls, and therefore I would like your help to fill the empty spaces; even if you use some random thing there, that should be okay.

Count Dracula: It doesn’t make any sense that you are asking me about this movie, as I am repelled by the existence of orcs, dwarves, hobbits (halflings), goblins, elves and dragons. But I have to tell you something, this is surely one of my favourite movies of the year too, and therefore you can add it to the list of Dracs Certified, or Certified by Dracula list. That shall give no credit to any non-vampire mythical creature though.

Vampire Bat: Talking about the non-mythical involvement, I was interested about the involvement of Guillermo del Toro, even as he didn’t direct the movie as planned. It was still great the same person who directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy had come back. But the fact remains that I can’t remember much about that series, as I watched it so long ago, at a time when I was less interested in English movies and I cared not much. But as I recollect them in parts and after I watched the second part of The Hobbit, I shall go and watch that much critically acclaimed and financial successful trilogy again.

Count Dracula: You have to watch them, for sure. I have always loved the types of mythical creatures in the series, and I know you can connect them with Age of Wonders, especially with the availables races in that game which includes Halflings (Hobbits) Orcs, Goblins, Elves, Humans, Dwarves and a lot more along with those dragon units and magical creatures. I would have loved to play that game, but I have no computer with me right now. I used to have a magical device which supports more realistic games which includes vampires drinking the blood of evil humans, but I am a little low in magic right now, and has to replenish it during the next time the Dark Elf merchants pass through this way.

Vampire Bat: The creatures are the major reason why I love the series, and The Hobbit is no different. It has our own gollum along with the goblins, orcs, dwarves, elves and of course the humans and our great little hobbit. I was actually quite suprised about Bilbo Baggins going on a dangerous journey with the great wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by their king Thorin Oakenshield to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor, and its riches from a fire-breathing dragon. Actually it is a pleasant surprise, as the underdog gets another chance, and this time with the little fighters who are almost same as his size, but different in attitude and bravery plus ability to combat.

Count Dracula: I like that hobbit, much more than I like the guy in The Lord of the Rings. I got a feeling that I am going to love Smaug the dragon too, when the sequel comes. The orcs and goblins are pretty awesome too. It is just sad that so many of them got killed. I remember going to a goblin market to buy some mechanical devices and to the orc armouries to buy some defence for my castle. I liked their depiction though, and their nature is also rightly shown, in my opinion.

Vampire Bat: I would agree to what you said last. But I have to say that the major reason I like this one is because the whole thing is so clear. There are no ambiguities in the story or in the screen. The visuals are so beautiful and crystal clear. I can’t remember seeing such a visually magnificent movie for such a long time. I am quite sad that I missed it on the big screen. It was surely a great honour for my television, as the whole thing looked so good on it, not a usual thing for my normal LED TV and the local cable tv network. Glory be to its visual effects, make-up and the twin feelings of light and dark which the movie managed to portray.

Count Dracula: I am more in support of its darker side, as I feel that the lighter side was meant to keep the dark world within control, as they always do. It is the same thing that they try in my case too, for most of these human audience are not prepared to face all these darkness at once, especially the kind of people whom they target with this type of movies. So, such combination was a must, and they have done well in combining both.

Vampire Bat: We can do nothing other than admire J.R.R. Tolkien for what he has provided us with, unlike what kind of teenage nonsense which has taken over the literature and movie world these days. May be I should write some fiction myself; well I do write something, and it is still fair nonsense. I love this world which the man has created. There is so much in it, not only to see for its visual beauty, but also a lot to think about. We are all hobbits or halflings in this world run by the so called influential people of the higher race, I guess. Therefore, we are all both Frodo and Bilbo in one.

Count Dracula: Except for me, as I am rather that orc person living in an elvish world with my inherent undead qualities, and thus rather a kind of Undead Dark Elf rather than a Wood Elf or a High Elf. But as we consider The Hobbit, I suggest you heavily recommend it.

Vampire Bat: I shall do the same and have to watch it many more times in my immortal hours, Count. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It might have been sad for such a legendary Gothic horror character to live through something like Twilight, but The Hobbit is one of those movies which can cheer him up. He has that opportunity to remember those beautiful days of magic and sorcery and the telepathic connections to the mythical world before science took over and branded all of them as vague imaginations, thus ending the connection. The Hobbit is for all vampires and good humans, that is for sure.

✠ There a few things which are to be kept in mind while going for this movie. It has great visual imagery, and the way in which each person of different races is detailed needs special mention, especially the dwarves. As the beauty of worlds are considered, the elf world stays incredibly beautiful. The collision of the worlds of light and darkness, and the assertion of faith exists with strength in this movie. It can also be considered a fable for the modern world and its life, as a group goes to claim glory, or rather try to get back their nostalgia, whichever is more applicable. So do they go and steal the gold or do they claim what is rightfully theres? Such remains the moral questions of the movie. Yes, I am looking forward to the sequels, The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and There and Back Again (2014). There would still be the question if these movies can stand the horrible weight of expectations, or will those strengthen the movie to such a huge extent that there is awesomeness. I do wish that Guillermo del Toro comes back for the final movie, even if that would make revolutionary changes in the movie making that last one entirely different from the rest.

Release date: 14th December 2012
Running time: 169 minutes
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm,Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Graham McTavish, Manu Bennett, Barry Humphries, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis

thehobbit copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Raven

theraven (3)

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore — While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door”. These are the first few lines of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, The Raven, which we had to study as a part of our American Literature syllabus for the partial fulfilment of the Masters Degree in English Language and Literature. Even as I found the process of doing seminar about Emily Dickinson more fascinating in this particular paper, my favourite work of that one paper was undoubtedly this poem about this black creature. Later in the poem, we have a better sight of the magnificent dark bird: “In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door — Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door — Perched, and sat, and nothing more”. The poem created such a great supernatural environment with the raven’s unexpected visit to a man who is mourning over his lost love.

Even as this movie takes the title from the same poem, and carries over the same darkness which the poem had in itself, the movie is not directly related to the poem, as it rather fictionalizes the final days of Poe’s life until his mysterious death instead of taking the poem’s imagery forward, and at the same time, gives our poet the powerful image of a crime solver. The use of the image of a literary figure can always be interesting, and as this one poet is considered, he was that big an influence in our question papers that it was quite difficult to take a decision to skip his poems – for that would leave us with not much to score in the exams. There might be many differences between a crow and a raven even as they look the same; as we consider the two movies The Crow and The Raven, they also belong to two different worlds, united only be the presence of murders, deaths and the dark side in both the movies. As the 1994 supernatural action movie is concerned, it remains one of my favourites, but I can’t say the same about The Raven with its investigative thriller atmosphere even as I have my own reasons for liking it.

The story takes us back to the nineteenth century, when Poe (John Cusak) lives his life filled with alcohol claiming to have used up all his literary abilities, and the only other thing he is interested in is the love for one woman, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve). He is loathed by the lady’s rich and influential father (Brendan Gleeson) though. Meanwhile, a group of cops find two dead bodies of a woman and her daughter, and detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) finds out that the crime resembles a murder in the short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue written by Edgar Allan Poe. As more incidents follow, Poe is called to the police station and is asked to help the cops in solving the strange case. At the same time, Emily is kidnapped by the killer who asks Poe to publish a new story. The murderer keeps leaving Poe clues until he gets to that one final clue which would reveal what has lead to this situation, and also that mystery behind the killer should be removed. But as Emily is buried under the ground in a coffin and time keeps running out, Poe is left with less to think and more to act.

I might have to agree that this didn’t work as well as I supposed it would, even as John Cusack and Luke Evans have come up with very good performances and so did the villain who shall not be revealed here. Cusak plays the man who invented the detective genre and blessed us with the best of the supernatural, with so much ease, even as the question remains about how much the character in the movie has deviated from the original person except for the mustache. May be the movie tried to bring too much of the characteristics of the man into one movie which is a suspense thriller with an unnecessary romantic background, thus making it a little too much of a mixture. Poe might not have liked it, but as an admirer of his work, I do; and there is no suspense about it. Alice Eve once again gives her best along with being out of the league, making her way towards the character as she should have. She plays more of a lover of Poe as a poet and his ideas, and plans to marry him despite of the disapproval of her father; and this is one love story which doesn’t have a good beginning or a happy ending.

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! — Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted — On this home by Horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore” – the lines from the poem matches with the depiction of Poe in the movie too, as he accepts his dark imaginations in the movie, and asks if imagining is also a crime. He is shown as a man with no money or fame left, even as The Raven remains one of the most famous works. He finds solace in alcohol as well as his love, and attempts to publish articles instead of fiction which both the editor and the admirers want, and would be something which can bring him fame and fortune again. As he says “Nevermore”, we can see that his character mostly reflects the same man who is the protagonist in his most famous poem. He is there to prove his lines, “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted – nevermore”! So as the title is concerned, we can identify the man more with the protagonist of the poem of the same name, which is more Poe than anywhere else.

The Raven has its own collection of blood and gore, with even a huge mechanical axe-like device used by the murderer to cut a man into two halves, as the machine swings to and fro like a pendulum coming down towards the victim second by second – from Poe’s another work, The Pit and the Pendulum. The whole atmosphere is full of shadows and darkness creating the much needed creepy world. The villain is someone who knows Poe’s imagination more than he himself does, and his characters and stories too well. There is even that question about Poe inspiring those murders. The inspiration for the movie might be many slasher movies which came earlier, that is for sure. There lies the agony, and the sadness which arises due to the fact that this is just a random fictionalized story with lots of areas which could have been better. There could have been further logic and strong connections, but The Raven has taken the easy way out, with three of the skilled leading actors and an addition of the dark atmosphere supported by blood and gore, trying to work the mystery of a literary figure and his works. It does work in parts most of the time, but as a movie which requires that standard of the poem whose title has been taken, there should have been a lot more.

Coming from the man who directed V for Vendetta this is surely a let-down. May be the movie confuses itself a bit about what it tries to achieve, but this is still a good flick for the literature enthusiasts, especially fans of this one poet and his works, even as there can be disappointment about the changes in depiction of the poet, and the lack of anything amazing in the story that made him a crime solver. There was a lot more scope to this idea of the fiction which has been explored here. I liked this movie because I could connect it with Poe’s works which I had to study and it was easy to remember more about him with this movie, even as it would have helped me much better if the movie had released in 2011. This movie is my nostalgia, of my time reading Poe at college. I can’t say the same about others though, and for those who don’t know Poe or haven’t read any of his works, this is better to be avoided. The other choice for you is to read his works, something which might be a tough ask in a world which is ruled by fiction of no real quality. Still, I would suggest you read the poem The Raven, about which I managed to write a lot in my exam, and a reading of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel with it might prove further interesting.

Release date: 9th March 2012
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: James McTeigue
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jimmy Yuill, Kevin McNally, Sam Hazeldine, Pam Ferris, John Warnaby, Brendan Coyle

therav copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.