Men in Black III

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What is MiB3? :: It is the third movie in the Men in Black series which comes as quite a surprise as the first movie released in 1997 and the second in 2002; now with fifteen years gone after the first movie and ten years passed after the second, one would easily think that the series based on Lowell Cunningham’s The Men in Black comic book series might have been done and can return only as a reboot or a perfect remake. But what happened in 2012 was indeed surprising as the alien-dealing protectors of the Earth has returned once again – five years between the first two movies, and ten between the second and the third, and Mathematics doesn’t favour a fourth, but I am not the one who would believe in numbers. One thing about which we can be sure as long as this series is considered, and it is that the movie was a hit even before it was released – I would have been surprised otherwise, and the men dressed in black has scope for even more sequels.

The Setting :: Men in Black (M.I.B) is a top-secret non-government agency that deals with extraterrestrial alien invasions, connections and refugees. It keeps the details of all the aliens who come to Earth and helps those who wishes to make a living on the planet, and at the same time fights any possible alien invasions or other kind of threats to the planet (May be they know about Superman’s presence too). The agency operates from an underground base of operations about which not even any of the world governments or spies are aware of. MIB agents use certain kind of devices called neuralyzers to wipe out the memories of the witnesses who have seen or felt any kind of alien presence, and thus keep their secret alive and away from being noticed. Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) are the top operatives for this organization and our protagonists once again, with another adventure which comes from outside Earth.

What is it about? :: Boris the Animal, the last of the alien species called Boglodites which consumed all planets in their path, escapes from a prison in moon. He is seeking vengeance on Agent K, who had shot and separated his left arm and imprisoned him in the year 1969. It is seen that one day, K just vanishes and there is no clue about him – it is as if only J remembers that he existed. He finds out that J died in 1969 and Boris the Animal as well as the whole species of Boglodites remain free and ready attack Earth. As it was K who came up with a shield to safeguard Earth and annihilated the Boglodites, it is found out tht Boris went back in time to murder K and thus make sure that he kept his left arm as well as his freedom, along with his race with all the power. Now J has to travel back in time at a time when time-travel is illegal and thus risky, and stop the current age Boris from uniting with the Boris of 1969 and killing K as well as saving Earth from the invasion.

The defence of MiB3 :: Well, this third movie of the series is almost as good as its predecessors, just trailing by may be a few points. It has a lot of fun, and works right as an action comedy. There are also the good special effects an nice CGI, even as there is nothing spectacular, nor there is the need for much. It is one of the best alien comedies too, and as a movie which doesn’t take itself seriously, it scores correctly. It also has a good number of aliens in store, not that you haven’t seen them already, but for those who might have not, and also for those who might have forgotten these two gentlemen in black, there was that “setting” section. Its combination of science fiction with comedy and the introduction of time travel makes it a fine combination of things. There are also those gadgets which looks interesting even if they belong to 1969 which is more of our 2069 in one way or the other. Like it, because even Batman comes only in black, or as they say in that Lego Trailer, very very dark grey.

The claws of flaw :: There is usually a curse associated with the third movie of the series, as they might not be the best of the franchise – I expect such things to happen in case of another sequel to Taken, and it has already happened with Blade 3, Alien 3, Species 3, Jaws 3 and a lot of other movies which you might recollect with a few seconds of thinking. Don’t think like that, for this one survives. But after waiting this long, does this get any better? The answer would be no. And does this offer anything new other than time-travel added? Once again a big no. Couldn’t they have come up with something other than time-travel for this third movie? I did think about it with no answers. There is no new addition or interesting stuff to suit the age, and there are moments when one wonders which direction this is going. Add Alice Eve’s hairstyle to an alien world – thats shocking indeed. The characters of Boris and Griffin were a little less interesting compared to the potential they had.

Performers of the Soul :: Will Smith has another one in his pocket, and a lot of us remember him as Agent J. He goes through the movie with ease, just like the previous movies of the series. Tommy Lee Jones is fine with the time when he is there, as his younger version is played by Josh Brolin who perfects the character. So, there are obviously three of them this time, and joining them is the present version of Agent O (Emma Thompson) and the lady’s 1969 version played by Alice Eve whose hairstyle shocks us to that extent that we wonder if she is actually an alien. But they are both good at what they have been doing in the movie, especially our older version. Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal is good, but not that awesome a villain as one was expecting. Michael Stuhlbarg’s Griffin add more funny dimensions, but there was scope for more with that character. There is also that twist in the end in which all the cast do a wonderful job.

How it finishes :: Men in Black 3 tries to extend the range of the series, and is successful in it. But with the lack of innovation and repetitive stuff, one has to wonder how far the franchise can stay alive. There is always the Will Smith factor to save it though. He doesn’t seem to age much, and he has the energy in him to bring more out of Agent J. May be one of the later movies in the series can come up with our favourite moment in an alien movie history, and as Griffin says, “unless this is the one where…” – as long as there is scope for aliens, there is hope. This one had no particular aim or reason for existing in an year in which The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises were always supposed to rule and become the movies of the year, along with a Hobbit and a Bond dropping in. It does finish tenth in the list of highest grossing movies of the year, but I would rather be surprised that it grossed more than the movies like Prometheus, Dredd and John Carter by a big margin. For now, it is yes for Men in Black 4.

Release date: 25th May 2012
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Hader, David Rasche, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Lorax

thelorax (5)

What is The Lorax? :: Here is a movie based on Dr. Seuss’ children’s book of the same name. Born as Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss has published fourty six books for children, and this one published in 1971 should be the most popular of them all. The book as well as the movie talks about the poor situation of the environment which humanity has brought on by themselves. There are significant differences between the book and the movie, and some might feel that there might have been a little bit too much deviation to suit the standards of Hollywood. But the fact remains that it has a strong message for the environment, something which has not been lost in the adaptation. So who is this guy known as The Lorax? Does he save the environment by making sure that the trees are not cut and the air and water are not polluted? Is he something like the male fairy of the forest of just another wood elf? Lets venture deep into the same.

What is it about? :: The movie begins with the story of Ted Wiggins, a twelve year old boy who lives in an artificial world. Surrounded by a destroyed environment, he lives in a walled city called Thneedville where everything is made of metals, platic or synthetics, and there is not even one tree which is real. There is a price for natural resources and clean air is difficult to get. Our kid wishes to impress a tree-loving young girl called Audrey by getting a real tree for her, but there is no such thing available. His grandmother tells him about Once-ler who can give him enough information about trees if can get that man fifteen cents, a nail, and a shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail. Even as the mayor of Thneedville, Aloysius O’Hare who sells bottled oxygen tries to keep him inside the walls, the boy sneaks out regularly in order to hear the story of the man who will only give him the tree after he finishes his tale. It turns out that the story is more of a history about the trees rather than anything else. Whatever it is, the boy needs his tree.

The story of Once-ler (You can choose to skip this one if you don’t need more details) :: The man who is hidden from the outside in her mostly destroyed cottage tells the story of a young man who left his family and reached the forest in order to make money. After cutting down the first tree, he meets the guardian of the forest, The Lorax. Even as Once-ler agrees not to cut another tree, but only to take what is needed from a living tree, his Thneed invention becomes a great success, and as his family members join him, there is a horrible attack on the trees with the mass production which needed big deforestation and the final destruction of the forest with not even one single tree left. As the air, water and land remains polluted and nothing left for him to do business with, his people abandons him and he is left with no hope. As all the animals and The Lorax leaves, he becomes a recluse living in an abandoned cottage. Now he needs to make amends for his action, but can he do it, or how will he do the same?

The defence of The Lorax :: I can’t remember a movie which has had this strong an environmental theme for a long time. It has the strong background of a brilliant work, and they have used it well to further strengthen the characters in the movie and make it more suitable for the current age. The looks of the characters are also appealing for the children. Its emphasis on saving the environment and its powerful assertion on the need to save the nature is impressive. As the world is slowly being taken over by the corporates who use the power of science to manipulate nature and create an artificial world out of nowhere, this has a powerful role to play. May be this can keep the newer generation of kids informed about the need to safeguard the world they live in. The preservation as well as the improvement of the natural environment should be taught in the early age itself rather than throwing scientific nonsense doing their brains. The movie can actually do a great job in the same.

The claws of flaw :: The movie surely deviates from the book, and its environmental concern is indeed a bit overdone. There are not many good tunes, and there is not enough fun with this one as compared to the other animated movies. There is a pervading dark tone around it, and the irony about the movie might be too much for an animated movie. It often losses its point as the life in the synthetic world is shown as perfect even in the natural destruction. There is also too much of the life in the artificial world which seems to justify itself without nature. Why does our hero want to grow a tree? Not to save the environment, but to impress a girl. The romantic subplots are getting more and more ridiculous these days, and I would hope that they can do without it whenever not needed. The environment is not part of our need to impress someone, it is the need of our life, not only of ours, but all life forms. It should stay with us forever rather than becoming an instrument to tell others that we did that, and we are awesome!

Nature’s sad loss :: Lets think about all these before we concentrate on sending rockets to Moon, Mars and everything that the scientists claim about. If we can’t save our planet which is moving more and more into chaos, what are we going to do about the future worlds were we live in? How can we even know that such a world exists without seeing them? We hear that they sent the rocket there, but how will we ever know that such things really happened – the plight of the common man who is set to believe everything, and can’t question where all the money disappears. Well, we have an environment to take care of right before our eyes. We can’t care about our habitat and our people; instead we look for a habitat in another world and also for lifeforms in another worlds. I have a lot of respect for the nations who would actually care about their citizens rather than go for space research. The lesser the betterment of other worlds, that much the better.

How it finishes :: With a villain who is almost like all the companies of the present who sells bottled water, and a selfish hero along with a former selfish hero, the movie has its flaws, but with its appealing animation and still powerful environmental message, the movie takes control. The biggest advantage might be that the kids can take a message home, that the trees are good and they should be planted everywhere – with a hope that when they grow-up, the world becomes a better place, even if one has to doubt that seriously seeing how they are exposed to the artificial world in such a young age. The respect for the elders, the parents and the teachers are slowly disappearing, but may be this movie can put a little bit of respect for nature in them. If it does, that should be the success that this movie can boast about. It is quite a short movie lasting less than one and half hours and hope you all give it a try. There is the need for balance between the humanity and the nature, and the the clock is ticking!

Release date: 27th July 2012
Running time: 86 minutes
Directed by: Chris Renaud
Starring (voice): Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Betty White, Jenny Slate

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

No One Lives

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Vampire Owl: Now that is indeed interesting. I might give it a Facebook like even without seeing the movie. So you mean to say that no one lives in the end? Everyone dies? This strange guy kills everyone?

Vampire Bat: No, he keeps the girl alive, but he does say that no one lives as he kills the last guy. But most of us would know that she might get to survive right from the beginning itself, and don’t we all love Adelaide Clemens?

Vampire Owl: Now that is indeed a disappointing side.

[Twenty three blood shakes later]

Count Dracula: Here you are again. I wouldn’t think that your owl friend was completely in favour of the movie. That one is a mystery, and obviously a flying person. But the fact remains that the only thing that we care about a lot is your opinion. You are the flightless Vampire Bat who watches more movies than anyone I ever knew.

Vampire Bat: Vampire Owl’s opinion is gore-infested. There is a clear positive review right there, the only negative being “some one lives”. But I take a different path, and yet both of us go against the usual reviews about the same.

Count Dracula: Doesn’t this come from Ryuhei Kitamura who directed The Midnight Meat Train? It was one of my favourite movies. There was lot of blood and gore involved and there was chilling twist. Vinnie Jones as Mahogany – thats a villain who every vampire Count needs to have as a henchman or even hitman. May be I should emply such a person so that we can have uninterrupted supply of blood? May be we should shift to a place under a city. Mad me think a lot. So this can’t be bad either.

Vampire Bat: Well, that was based on Clive Barker’s 1984 short story of the same name. He is indeed a master of horror, taking one back to the other movies Hellraiser and Candyman, as well as the computer game Undying. Our movie doesn’t seem to be based on anything which might be why it doesn’t have that touch which The Midnight Meat Train had. But it is still a very good treat for the horror fans who are in support of the blood and gore, and also somewhat for the others.

Count Dracula: Yes, even I feel the same. Who is this guy mentioned as Driver? Is he as good as Mahagony. From the trailers, it seemed that he could also make as much good a villain as Mahagony, but I have my doubts if he is the hero or the villain? What is it about?

Vampire Bat: There is a couple travelling in the country area, and this couple is attacked by a group of thieves who captures both, one of them who is Driver. They are both tortured for their credit card and pin numbers and the girl decides to end her life by pushing against the thief’s knife. Driver breaks free and kill the thief. But the other thieves who has the car finds out that there is a young girl tied up and locked in the back of the car. As they take her out, she tells the story of a man who killed her friends and locked her up. The thieves go back to find their dead friend, and when they bring the body back, Driver emerges from inside the body which was stitched from the inside to avenge the death of his lady!

Count Dracula: That grabs my attention, but I guess that he should be almost invisible, a tougher guy than Mahagony. Isn’t the role played by Luke Evans? I remember him mostly for Immortals, even as I have to admit that he surprised me in The Raven and Fast & Furious 6, thanks to your recommendation in that case. I got a feeling that he is going to surprise me further in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Does his charm work out with this movie?

Vampire Bat: Yes, he is also going to be there for The Crow reboot as well as in Dracula Untold. He is good in this movie even with those strange expressions at times, and even as his character is too one-dimensional and there is not much explanations like you found in The Midnight Meat Train. He is just the driver who kills, and he indeed has many cruel ways of killing people; and in this story, most of them are bad people. A better character could have served better. But you have to think more about the three main beauties, Adelaide Clemens, Laura Ramsey and America Olivo.

Count Dracula: I guess I know how America Olivo is going to impress us, and yes her presence is a boost in rather an unconventional way, and she is always good in that. I remember her from Friday the 13th, and there is going to be more of her in the 2012 movie Maniac when I watch it. I remember Laura Ramsey from The Ruins too – if there was no Amber Heard, may be she could have suited for such roles. Adelaide Clemens is a cutie indeed, and I can remember her very well from that movie you recommended – Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the three of them serve their purpose, and Adelaide Clemens rules the movie, not without being a little irritating at times, but I guess that comes with a character who has suffered. America Olivo seems to be custom fit for her death scene, and she seems to be proving that horror movies might need her a lot – well one has to say that Driver is indeed fond of killing wherever the place is. Laura Ramsey could have had a bigger role to play, even as there is a certain amount of mysterious beauty in her character as she goes on to kill herself to end her suffering. There is also Lindsey Shaw who suffers for no reason.

Count Dracula: Well, one has to guess that this movie is full of suffering. I wonder if Driver going the Mahagony way can come up with anything less. The Vampire Owl had told me that Driver wears a Kevlar vest, and rarely makes a mistake. Now that is too much for a man who doesn’t explain who or what he is. Do you have any idea what on the Earth he is? Why is he called Driver and why does he go around killing people?

Vampire Bat: My first guess was that he is a revenge seeker, but we can’t be sure about that. He does have another name and his actions with the thieves are justified, but there is no point to what he has been doing for a long time – may be there is a long story behind all that which they wanted to leave a mystery. But that doesn’t help much, as this often becomes a movie in which “a random highly skilled person kills a number of random people due to some random reason that we have no idea about”. We can only guess that he is a random serial killer.

Count Dracula: The nameless, aimless ones impress a lot of people, no wonder. They needed someone like me. I could have done better job than Driver and could have even left my card there. I know my motivations too. Someone kills everyone in a mission to kill anyone, and no one lives except one – so said Vampire Owl. The ways of horror movies can only get stranger.

Vampire Bat: Still, there is the gore-fest made in a creative manner, and moments of shock successfully created. As I already said, the three ladies are kind of horror specialists, as they have acted and proved in such movies, and they continue to impress here, with Luke Evans who becomes the serial killer who could gain varied responses. There are also some good dialogues. Only if the movie could tell the viewers what it was actually trying to do…

Count Dracula: Its produced by WWE Studios right? I think they are getting better every time. The blood itself should inspire me to watch this one. There is a party coming up, and it is only by watching the blood that my blood shake making ability get better. I am going to watch this one on a big LED screen!

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is worth your time of blood for sure, and let me know how much you are going to rate it with the blood and without it. Now, it is the time for me to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a bloody discussion again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, world’s most efficient movie watching Bat. May the sky never fall on your head.

Vampire Bat (to himself): I am fully in support of this movie mostly due to the surprises that comes with it. Even as I am not much into blood and gore these days, this one has a river of the same. It also has a lot of good moment and dialogues despite the irritation factor staying with it. The lead actor is a brutal killer (Luke Evans Almighty without his ark and the animals) at his best and the ladies look great, plus the murders are innovative enough. I shall sign a petition if there is one about making a sequel to this, for I need to get into the origins of this killer, if they have even thought about him having a life before beginning to do all these things.

✠ If you liked The Strangers, and felt the need for more blood and gore, you might like this one more. This movie also has murders for almost no reason at all. When the excuse of that movie was about the couple being home, our killer makes the excuse that it keeps him fit. Well, I have had better excuses with me when I had failed to do homework during school days. Well, none of these killers are that evil as the fire-breathing demon which is Mathematics. WWE Studios has evolved from making horror flicks like See No Evil which was okay, to this one which is very good. Yes, being a WWE fan (even though I no longer watch the matches) when the movies have that WWE logo before the beginning, it interests me – isn’t WWE also the same as the movie? Well, some of the stories in World Wrestling Entertainment were many times better than some of the stories associated with a few movies. This is a very short movie which takes less than one and half hours too, and that should make one either happy or unhappy.

Release date: 10th May 2013
Running time: 86 minutes
Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, America Olivo, Laura Ramsey, Lindsey Shaw, Lee Tergesen, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp, Brodus Clay

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Nadan

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A Flashback :: Nadan comes from Kamal who had a great beginning to 2013 with the movie Celluloid which was the biopic of J.C Daniel, the father of Malayalam Cinema. It received seven Kerala State Film Awards including the award for Best Film and Best Actor (Prithviraj Sukumaran) and the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam. Before that, his works included a very interesting take or rather a satire on the pride of a rich common man (Swapna Sanchari), a critically acclaimed work focusing on the fate of poor Indians in the middle east through the life of an immigrant Indian housemaid in Saudi Arabia (Gaddama) and my personal favourite revenge story plus a success at the box-office (Aagathan). So the expectations were going to be high about this one making this the obvious first choice in the absence of a Hollywood release and a good Bollywood release, especially as the other movie at the box-office, Visudhan has got some mixed to mostly negative reviews (the audience was less in number when I watched though).

What is Nadan? :: We have already had a movie based on theatre this year, in the form of Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus (check my review of God’s Own Cleetus), directed by Marthandan and starring Mammootty – It had achieved mostly mixed reviews, but I liked that one for sure, more than most of those who watched it. Who can forget Yavanika? But nothing matches Bharathan’s Chamayam when it comes to the movies set against the backdrop of theatre. There was pure brilliance from Manoj K. Jayan, Murali and also Sithara. The 1989 movie Ramji Rao Speaking (remade in Hindi as Hera Pheri) and its sequel Mannar Mathai Speaking (partially remade in Hindi as Bhagam Bhag) also had some drama elements added to their popularity in a comical way, but nothing serious. Nadan, translated as “actor” gets into this world of theatre with a seriousness like never before. In the current situation where it not really about actor, but about hero and the fan clubs, this movie tries to make an impact in a way which might not be unfamiliar to you, but still remains fresh.

What is it about? :: After a long list of special thanks in the beginning, the movie comes up with the story of Devadas Sargavedi (Jayaram) after telling the story of his grandfather and father who were big names in the Malayalam drama industry. He tries to follow the foot steps, but in the end, losses out due to bad response for the drama compared to mimicry, serial and cinema. As the big screen and the silver screen takes over, the drama losses out – at the venues of temple festivals and church programs, the place is taken by music troops and other similar programs. We know how much it had lost in front of comedy skits, cinematic dance and music programs from the way each cultural programs has been conducted. He losses his muse Jyothi Krishna (Remya Nambeesan) with the rise of cinema as a powerful medium as well as his wife (Sajitha Madathil) as weaknesses take over the artist in him and he falls for his muse. He is left with only a few old artists, an old tempo and no booking for his shows.

The defence of Nadan :: I can remember that I have watched one drama, and yet I can’t remember anything from it, may be because I was a kid. The movie takes us to three timelines, of the 1930s, 1950s and the 1970s – the last one continuing on. The movie takes a non-linear path to tell the story, as it starts from Devadas’ daughter updating her facebook account with the photos of her family, and it ends in the same period. The rest of the movie mostly goes through Devadas’ bad situations with occasional flashbacks. Kamal has successfully made that work. The story is a good experience as it raises nostalgia, and so does it make one think about the loss of dramatic works to the powerful medium which is cinema and the disgusting bore that is mega serial. There might be a question about why and how we have been missing our culture – the answer is the loss of drama, and instead of works which makes us think, we are after pathetic emotional nonsense and new generation nothingness – there comes the part to think for us.

The claws of flaw :: The movie wouldn’t come anywhere near Kamal’s earlier venture which was Celluloid. I would still hope that this one would get some recognition in the next Kerala Film Awards. There is also some fear that most of the new generation won’t accept it with its simple world and the recreation of the life in a way which is not at all an exaggeration. The songs could have been slightly better though, and even visually this can’t compete with Celluloid. There is also a certain amount of drag, especially in the second half. The character of Remya Nambeesan could have some more presence, and there could have been more scenes involving variety drama works and also rehearsals. Still, with whatever it has, the movie manages to connect, even if not in such a way Chamayam could. The beauty of drama is often restricted to the dialogues and the continuous praise that has been bestowed upon it. The climax could have been better. Even as there is a certain amount of sad feeling created in the minds of the viewers, the depth of Celluloid is missing, but it should be mostly due to Prithviraj’s character being a perfect gentleman without ego or flaws.

Performers of the soul :: This is one of those movies which deals with the drama and still the dramatist would seem to get more attention than the work of art – this movie is centered around the life of one dramatist, and yes, Jayaram has done a fantastic job. It would all have depended on how his character is taken, and one has to say that there is nothing lost with Devadas as a dramatist. Still, the movie could have concentrated a little more on drama as a spectacle of the contemporary world (it was good to see that they could touch the nonsense that has been hailed as drama these days, something which we did see a bit in Olipporu). Along with his powerful performance, Sajitha Madathil, Joy Mathew and K. P. A. C. Lalitha strongly contributes. Remya Nambeesan has a smaller role and less screen presence, but when she is there, she scores. One has to appreciate her selection of movies, as she didn’t start off that well, but has come up with her performances in some of the best movies like this one, Philips and the Monkey Pen, Arikil Oraal and Left Right Left, along with some good ones in between. Hareesh Peradi makes another clean strike after Left Right Left. The girl who played the daughter was very good too.

How it finishes :: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hasn’t arrived here yet. Only God knows when Kick-Ass 2, Ender’s Game and Machete Kills releases here. With the much weaker other movies in the other languages around, Nadan should score good, even as its ability to connect with the newer generation and the entertainment lovers might be a little less. We can see that Nadan has impressed a good number of people, from their opinions. Now it is to be seen if it keeps that positive word of mouth which has been slightly going down, alive. The reviews haven’t been much positive. I would say that good nostalgic movies like Nadan has to be made more often. It is neither of the old generation not the new generation, as it creates its own group of viewers, a fine collection of people who loves movies as well as theatre. Despite its limited abilities and scope, Nadan rises, and that itself is a big positive compared to all those movies which destroy all the potential and go down the sewers or play the safe game and come up with quite an ordinary execution. The success of Nadan will only help the Malayalam movie industry to be innovative without going new generation – that should be great!

Release date: 22nd November 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Kamal
Starring: Jayaram, Remya Nambeesan, Sajitha Madathil, Joy Mathew, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, P. Balachandran, Hareesh Peradi, M.Mukundan, Jayaraj Warrier, Shankar Ramakrishnan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Amazing Spider-Man

✠ I would be surprised if the loyalties of the fans have not shifted from my favourite superhero of the childhood to what could be termed as the Iron Man mania or the Batman addiction. They have taken over, and my other childhood superhero He-Man is nowhere to be found. The Revival of the interest in Spider-Man can go back to the Tobey Maguire – Kirsten Dunst starring adaptation of the same and its sequels. Still, the favourite actor of the series happened to be James Franco, thanks to Spider-Man 3. As everyone was waiting to watch The Dark Knight Rises, there was a little lack of interest in the same, but I am glad that the movie has managed to survive. Spider-Man was my favourite comic-strip in the Sunday newspaper, and I remember waiting eagerly for it, even as for the cartoons section, the winner was Ducktales. I had a good collection of Spidey’s graphic novels, and I can remember buying despised chewing gums just for getting the Spidey stickers free, giving the gums to my friends. Spider-Man defined my childhood, even as I never tried to climb the walls. I would add that Spider-Man is also the first “typical superhero” video game I played.

Count Dracula: Spider-Man? Seriously? I mean you are the Vampire Bat, always wearing that black costume and pretending that you can fly, and you still like Spider-Man? You should like Batman, he is your kind sharing the “bat” added to your names – he comes in black, while this spider person comes in red and blue. Even Robocop comes in black pretending that he is Judge Dredd, and it is the new trend. Think about it – Spidey boy is too thin for you; it might feel okay for you now, but from the way you are gaining weight, you might become Vampire Bane and not Vampire Bat.

Vampire Bat: I have no special interest in the character, nor am I interested any spider. I have a fair share of spiders and their webs in my room though. I used to raise a little spider on my motor-bike, but it wasn’t radio active, and went missing on a rainy day. I didn’t have photo of it, which is why I couldn’t ask people if they have seen the little one. Do come here, and count the spiders. I wake up every day, and see a lizard or cockroach, thats how I usually start my day. If you need a centipede though, there are some beautiful pictures right here at Harsha’s place (http://allresourceupdates.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/centipede-they-are-quite-fastarent-they/)

Count Dracula: No, thanks. There was a time when a centipede got into my coffin. I won’t blame it as I am obviously the dead Count walking. It seemed to love the time in my ear, and I had to use drown myself in blood to get it out. I had to run after the local village people with an axe three times a day to reduce the fat that I had gained by taking in too much dark elf blood. Thank God for Goblin Markets, otherwise it would have fed on my brain and the childish zombies would have mocked me. Let me tell you this though, no centipede or a spider will ever become a vampire.

Vampire Bat: But Peter Parker is bitten by the spider, that too a genetically modified one. As you know, the abilities were transferred like vampirism. Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man, along with most of which you already know – of Spider-Man Origins as the man becomes Spider-Man after his uncle’s death. That would leave the question about what are the two different things – they are Gwen Stacy and Dr. Curt Connors a.k.a The Lizard. I would say that they both score better than our heroine and villains of the earlier Spider-Man trilogy. I wouldn’t just judge our hero in comparison yet though.

Count Dracula: Only one villain? That is depressing. I heard that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will have two of them, The Rhino and Electro. It is usually the number two movie that comes up with the best villain. Now that is going to be a cliche for sure.

Vampire Bat: I doubt that. I know who you are referring to, but I loved Batman Begins, and Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul is my first preference for a Batman villain in the new trilogy. The Scarecrow could have been so much better too. But we just can’t deny our Lizard his due. We don’t have an evil man there; he is no Joker, as he falls to his tragic flaw rather than anything that motivates a normal villain. He is the victim of science. He succumbs to that feeling that he can use technology to his advantage in doing the right thing, but ends up doing the exact opposite.

Count Dracula: Someone I know said this “Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain”. It was someone I despise a lot. But the situation here demands that to be true.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I remember Van Helsing. But it doesn’t begin or end there. The Lizard’s only possible true comparison is with Doctor Octopus of Spider-Man 2, another experiment gone wrong and another bad man created. The emotional turmoil, the consequences of his actions and the way their minds deviate – lots of things might be similar. Lizard’s clear advantage is the more advanced CGI and the movie being the origins story. Spider-Man 2 was the last good story in a series and this one is the first. I would still think that the Spidey villains need to get better, as Ra’s al Ghul, Joker, Bane, General Zod – they are all scoring for DC. Marvel’s only hope lies in Loki along with Magneto and his side-kicks as long as they are not taken away by Krrish.

Count Dracula: Talk about Andrew Garfield. He is surely Spider-Man, as the one that you might have read in those Sunday comic strips. He looks young and surely looks like the youngest superhero that is popular with us. He is not burdened by experience as Batman, nor is he troubled by his alien existence like Superman; he has not the need to be He-Man and protect a universe of magic either. He is more or less closer to being the comparatively normal superhero than he is. At least he is closer to being what he claims than you are; you still can’t fly.

Vampire Bat: Why should I fly? Even Batman doesn’t fly. I have a logo like him and I even have dark costumes which can scare people at night. Why don’t you concentrate on Wichita instead? I mean Emma Stone. I can’t get over that name at all – thank you Zombieland. She looked so good in it with the black hair, but this character needed this colour change. This movie has a better romance than the former trilogy, thank God. No overdose of crying romance to follow, we hope. But we can only hope that the Venom episode would be handled much better.

Count Dracula: It took them only five years after the trilogy ended to release the first movie of the reboot franchise. I don’t think that this one can offer too much difference from the previous adaptation. Batman and Superman got rid of the style of wearing underwear on the outside, but as Spider-Man never had that practice, that gesture is not possible. The dark style might not suit him either. May be he can dress like me and hold a spider in his hands. The symbol of ‘bat’ worked for Batman, and the alien nature worked for Superman. Neither the spider symbol or the nerdy character can do something like that for Spider-Man.

Vampire Bat: There are a few things that the trio of superheroes, Superman, Batman and Spider-Man can offer, and one of them is great delight in the form of box-office success. There are many others for sure, but along with Wolverine and Iron Man, these three carry immense potential to break records. The only character from the west who might be more well-known than these should be you. You are our synonym for vampire, and if there is something that they relate with sucking good amount of blood that is you, even as I know a few mosquitoes who might disagree.

Count Dracula: That is not right. I have maintained the disguise of a simple farmer here. I just cultivate corpses, and keep the environment undead. Don’t you have your own vampires out there, the vampires of wealth in the form of celebrities and politicians, vampires of food in the form of restaurants, vampires of truth in the form of media and so on? Do not bother me with that – try your superheroes instead. They shall entertain you and make sure that your childhood concepts remain almost the same.

Vampire Bat: The dignity of superheroes was stolen away by Krrish. It has been partially saved by Thor, but only with the next sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man that it can be claimed back completely. It is up-to Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone to keep the work going. The villains will help, and so will the CGI.

Count Dracula: I am not the kind of person who would believe in superhero stuff. But let me tell you a few things I am sure about. The first thing is that Spider-Man will never be my favourite superhero. The second thing is that I still believe in Spider-Man movies. The simple light shade that the Spidey manages gains my respect.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the movie is excellent in many ways. There are not many flaws to be associated with it. We loved the performances and the way in which they have shaped the story. It is still too early for a reboot and there is nothing spectacular tried this time, and no attempt to deviate into another path like what happened with Batman. Get that DVD, my friend.

Count Dracula: Yes, I think I will. Good bye, brother in fangs.

Vampire Bat (to himself): How can we ignore our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man just because there have been an overflow of superheroes? There is no chance for such a cruelty towards the first Hollywood superhero movie to release in the theatre near my place. There will be no such avoidance. This movie will be more recommended than any other Spider-Man movie. As the origins story has been setup already, the sequel is only going to be better, and I am very confident about it.

The Amazing Spider-Man is another superhero movie which you have to watch. Even without any particular innovation of supreme significance, the movie is a treat to all the fans of the genre as well as the Spidey lovers. The web is stronger than ever this time, even as it will not win any awards in an arachnid competition. Watch this one as the origins story, and there is a lot more to come. You may or may not like spiders, and in most cases loathe them, but lets make sure that this is one creature of the web who gains our attention. Even Count Dracula does that wall crawling stuff very well, and he would indeed love to see something really amazing from the two-legged partial arachnid who just cannot stop itself appearing again and again. Along with the two villains that we have in the upcoming sequel, lets hope for the other interesting villains like Mysterio and Chameleon, as its going to be a long race for the Spidey.

Release date: 3rd July 2012
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Dark Shadows

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✠ The rating given to this movie might shock a few mortals, but as this blog written from the Vampire Bat’s perspective, he has decided to take control to fulfill his partially broken promise to that Count who lived as a recluse inside a coffin in a castle. Yes, the Vampire Bat doesn’t broke promises, or rather doesn’t break anything other than may be, his own teeth – blame the root canal offers from local dentists in that case. To add to it, the Vampire Bat shall write this review on a Wednesday, as he was born on such a day. He is mentally depressed after writing a test, and after asserting what he had found out that each and every other person of his world wants the questions from the syllabus while he wants the same from outside. May be he never belonged to the world of humans, and should rather fly away one day. But the depressing side is that he can’t fly – so he will write a bloody review about one of his favourite vampire movies, and undoubtedly his favourite blood sucking movie of 2012. Yes, this is that movie.

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? Its time Barnabas Collins gets his due. He is one of those few vampires who could see McDonalds and feel the presence of Mephistopheles. He is our saviour against Twilight and Mortal Instruments creatures of pseudo-darkness.

Vampire Bat: I can see that you feel the need for some good vampires like Barnabas Collins and Victoria Winters. I love that scene when he sees M for McDonalds: Over 1 billion served. He was accidently quite right about the fast food and the beverages being the demons who suck the soul out of our insides, leaving us nothing of much use. Twilight and Mortal Instruments are the result of the same fast food, as they mess up our brain rather than the stomach.

Count Dracula: So what do you think about this vampire and his family? I did feel the presence of other wonderful forces of the supernatural right from outside the theatre where it was showing – I was wandering around in the mist until I crashed on the wall of that place, it was not good for my fangs, but still felt good for the presence.

Vampire Bat: Barnabas returns 196 years later, after feeling the wrath of unrequited love from a witch, Angelique Bouchard who cursed him into a bloodsucker, killed his parents and also forced his true love to commit suicide. She is a witch who curses his family and gets him buried alive in the middle of a forest, takes over his family business and puts his descendents into ruin. The worst thing is that the witch is still alive, using her magic to identify herself as her own descendants. This love has always been so overrated, right?

Count Dracula: Yes, even with me it is the same. I already feel a lot of love for Angelique Bouchard. Eva Green is that good, and I still can’t forget The Dreamers. I can remember my first infatuation with a witch already. Why would he not return the love baffles me. Whom does he have instead?

Vampire Bat: There is Bella Heathcote taking rebirth, from Josette du Pres to Victoria Winters. She appears as if an enchanting fairy vampire, not as some random Bella. But the two characters you will surely love are Michelle Pfeiffer’s Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and Chloë Grace Moretz’s Carolyn who asks “are you stoned or something” to which the recently risen Barnabas says “they tried stoning me dear, it did not work”. To add to it, he calls a lava lamp “pulsating blood urn”, and the crane as “a giant dragon with millions of teeth and a thousand shining eyes” – you have to love him. His seriousness is awesome!

Count Dracula: I have felt that myself, rising from the grave and seeing the world different. I know you feel the change each and every day. The world is indeed to fast, and I am sure that most of us hope that each and every day we go to sleep, we never wake up again. I wish for the sunlight to disappear, and you hope for the day to end, and there is not much different in how we see the world, and we are as outdated as Barnabas Collins; it is just that we have no lover witch.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I have always thought that, and Dark Shadows makes sure about the same. Moretz is wonderful in the movie, and the way she says “I’m a werewolf, okay? Don’t make such a big deal over it” to her mother, and always special mention needs to be for Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter. Meanwhile, if you don’t like Bella Heathcote in this movie, you have to be blind – not that closing of eyes you do with sunlight, but the real blindness of the physical world.

Count Dracula: You make the point there. I have read about the many faces of Johnny Depp too, and I shall not doubt him at any moment. This face is my favourite indeed, and then comes that Jack Sparrow followed by the crow-carrying head in The Lone Ranger. Then comes Sweeney Todd and The Hatter – who won’t love Alice in Wonderland by the way, and they were two special characters. I am not going to count the faces of such a versatile actor, as that won’t even please my coffin. Instead tell me more about Eva Green.

Vampire Bat: Her character has angel in her name and some strange love which keeps her in the attitude that “If I can’t have you, my love, I’ll destroy you!” – not that much of hatred as she keeps him alive; should be too much admiration. She tries everything she can, but true love finally wins – not really a surprise, isn’t it? Eva Green is fantastic in the movie, as she is beautiful, charming and perfect as the pretty witch. The cast itself is the real strength of the movie. With such awesome names involved with it, who would not wish to watch this movie? The comedy is also well done.

Count Dracula: That sounds like interesting stuff. A vampire movie with all of these? That should cure me from the death strike which fell on me with Twilight and Mortal Instruments. I shall have a new life of blood. You should have reviewed this one much earlier – remember how long ago I had told you to do the same?

Vampire Bat: Despite the good box-office returns, the ratings haven’t been good with it. I would think that it is the result of an anti-vampire sentiment and possible cruelty which has been unleashed on vampire movies due to terror which was Twilight and all the sequels that followed tried desperately to destroy man’s faith in vampires. No wonder Byzantium didn’t release at this part of the world. There is only one chance for us to reclaim that lost faith, or rather two – release a movie from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, or create the much needed sequel to this movie which has left a good chance for another story by the end of it.

Count Dracula: It is much needed, that is for sure! These undead creatures are bothering me too much just because they had to watch Twilight. Even the wolves no longer listen to me – they think I am going to wear their skin as clothing and call myself a werewolf. See how these movies are badly affecting my children of the night. We need that, or I might have to turn my whole castle into a one big coffin.

Vampire Bat: There is less hope for both of them. The problem about having a Vampire Chronicles movie is that nothing can live up-to the awesomeness of Interview with the Vampire. The scope of a Dark Shadows sequel is less, due to the lack of need and the not that positive critical reception. One day, we will take over as official undead reviewers with bad teeth, and then we can change the whole thing.

Count Dracula: Then we shall stick with this Barnabas as the vampire hero of this century so far. The last century’s control was disputed, but for this one, it has become pretty clear, the only challenge being from Selene and the next closest was indeed Rayne, but they were rather the heroines who enchanted us. I shall pray for the rise of more vampire in movies and literature which are as good as Barnabas.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is worth your time for sure, especially as you have not much to do, and all the 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, especially the dark shadows if you got what I meant.

Vampire Bat (to himself): I am fully in support of this movie mostly due to the great performance of Johnny Depp in his new avatar, and then due to the good work put into it by Eva Green with great support from the rest, especially Bella Heathcote, Chloë Grace Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter. Here, we have that true vampire comedy movie which adds almost every ingredient correctly, thus making this a great choice, and the reason why you need to go back in time and check the theatres.

✠ I don’t know about that television show or soap opera on which this movie is based, and that might not be necessary, but if you love vampire flicks and bloodsuckers in literature, you will like Dark Shadows which keep the worlds of Twilight and Mortal Instruments away. Even if you don’t care much about the same, the comic side of the movie will keep you interested. Still, there is so much seriousness underneath striving for true love, which makes this a wonderfully layered movie. I am pretty sure that whatever you like and wherever you are from, most of you will at least like this one as an average movie, and there are not many places where you can have this much vampire fun along with looking at such a great cast. Behold the beauty of the shadows of this movie, and you might end up loving it along with Bella Heathcote. This one won’t even make Count Dracula think twice, and in that case, long live Barnabas Collins, who has survived a witch’s love and watched his own dark shadows in a coffin for such a long time.

Release date: 11th May 2012
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Bella Heathcote, Eva Green, Chloë Grace Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Thira

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What is Thira? :: On a vague translation, it is what the fifth century Greek dramatist heard on the Aegean Sea, and what Matthew Arnold felt on the English coast and wrote down in his Dover Beach. What do we have here though? Thira is the latest addition which joins Vineeth Sreenivasan’s success as a director, as this is another add-on to Malarvadi Arts Club and Thattathin Marayathu, two of his earlier success stories. Lal Jose brings us no bad movies, so there is the guarantee yet again. Instead of the terrible loss of faith in Dover Beach, we have the loss of humanity, its righteousness which has been quickly disappearing with its belief in God. The situation is yet again that of the darkling plain, for the situation of the Victorian Age was more of faith, belief and humanity than it is now. This flick from Vineeth Sreenivasan is not light as his other two crowd-pulling ventures, as this is dark and on the other side of humanity, where there is no happiness of friendship or the beauty of love, rather the bad or the evil side of society which leaves us with nothing but disgust about a lot of things that is happening in this world, but not without a ray of hope – remember the movie Passenger.  When Shobana says “have faith” in the movie, remember…

What is it about? :: Thira tells the story of Dr. Rohini Pranab (Shobana) who is a cardiac surgeon trying to find the mystery behind the death of her husband. But as she tries to unravel one mystery, another one comes forward, as girls from her welfare home are kidnapped, and she herself is brought under suspicion by the media. Meanwhile, Naveen (Dhyan Sreenivasan) comes to meet his younger sister after a long time, as he had run away from his house a few years ago. But just before he get a chance to get to her, she is kidnapped by a group of people in a car, vanishing before he could do anything. As police refuses to help him, he picks up clues and reaches a place where he finds two girls held captive and releases them until he is captured by the goons along with Rohini who comes searching at the same place. They escape and join forces to find the missing girls with the help of an honest cop and Rohini’s co-workers. Naveen is told that he has a maximum of twenty four hours to save his sister, as Rohini finds out that there were some clues left behind by her dead husband who was after the same group of human traffickers.

The success of Thira :: There are not many other actor or actresses that we have noticed before in another movies except for Shobana (releasing at a time when the half-a-sequel to her classic Manichitrathazhu also came to the theatres in the same weekend and struggled). But still, this one has managed to get the best out of the rest, supported by its wonderful narrative and background score, supported by the right use of its partially adapted story-line. Its theme might be too much used, but the treatment here is different, as in the movie Passenger, this one also takes the path of the common man who fights against the system and those people who tries to take advantage of the corrupt system with their illegal works. To add to it, the movie never bores, as it is fast – may be too fast that it often forgets to create suspense and create the thrilling moments; but that still works. It takes on a social message very well, and successfully creates the much needed objective correlative with its connection rightfully established. For that, it is three out of three for Vineeth Sreenivasan, and the ratings from me would be 59 out of 100 for Malarvadi Arts Club, 80 out of 100 for Thattathin Marayathu and 81 out of 100 for this one, that is how I personally see the improvement.

Flaws of victory :: The camera shakes – that is the first thing I didn’t like. That doesn’t really make the scenes more realistic or interesting, and it is a major flaw whatever the movie is. The beauty on the screen can’t be loved that easily with so much shaking around. Meanwhile, this is going to be trilogy, and with the expectations high, and the second part of movie never really becoming as good as the first, we have to bite our nails a lot. Yes, there are too many movies to which this movie seems related, mostly with the theme and the outline plot. The movie also delivers less as a thriller, as a good number of moments becomes predictable and defy common logic, even as that doesn’t affect the flow or the totality of the story. Fighting against such a huge racket supported by politicians and police seemed to be too easy, and once they get together, almost all their ideas go in the right direction. It makes us sad about the state of the kidnapped, but it doesn’t add enough suspense or enough twists to make this the thriller which rules its genre. But how many people can claim about a flawless victory? Not even Liu Kang or Kitana can achieve the same with ease, in a Mortal Kombat game.

Performers of the soul :: This is Shobana’s movie as one would expect. She plans and takes steps as a lighter female version of Taken‘s Liam Neeson, who doesn’t care who she has to fight to get her girls back (Remember “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you” from Taken). It is a fantastic return to our favourite leading actress of 1980s and 90s. She plays the strong protagonist, while Dhyan Sreenivasan plays the weaker one who still has to take on the goons physically due to the love for his sister – like Suresh Gopi’s character in Rudraksham. One has to say that he is very good as a newcomer too. With Vineeth Sreenivasan directing, I did wonder if this was one of those roles which could have perfectly suited the only leading actor he had in his movies, Nivin Pauly. May be we can have him in the sequel, as Dhyan’s character is done with this one, and that should be great, and very interesting indeed. There are so many other characters, but none of them really getting the needed screen time to be talked about much. The only exception might be the girl who played the sister role, and she’s good indeed. Thira rests on two performers, and as they scores, the movie takes off.

Details with spoilers :: I don’t know about its alleged borrowing from Amazing Grace and The Whistleblower, and it being the unofficial remake of the 2007 film Trade. But it will remind people about the 2012 action thriller Karmayodha which was rather a weak attempt on the same subject of human trafficking, especially of women. This movie is rather a very good reminder about how good Karmayodha could have been and how badly it missed out. Well, there are two other movies which I would like to mention – they are the 1994 Malayalam movie Rudraksham and 2009 English movie Taken. The former deals with a man (Suresh Gopi) looking for his younger sister in a strange city and ends up in the abode of a gangster who runs a brothel. The latter is the story of one man (Liam Neeson) who uses all his skills to save his daughter and her friend. The former could be Dhyan who tries to save his sister as a one-man army and the latter could be Shobana who tries to save more than one girl with her skills. The hopelessness of the former and the determination of the latter combines here. The dark tone of these movies seems to make them blood-brothers.

How it goes :: Vineeth Sreenivasan has surely come a long way from Malarvadi Arts Club, but even as the first thriller from him, this won’t be a Thattathin Marayathu in the box office, despite the comparative richness in content. Geethanjali‘s failure to live up-to the expectations will help this one a lot though. It is a clear winner at the box office, and may even exceed our expectations if the next releases doesn’t work that well. To add to it, we have the ability to accept the different, unless it doesn’t become Olipporu – our audience accepted Traffic, Chaappa Kurishu, Amen and North 24 Kaatham (about Annayum Rasoolum and Kili Poyi, God knows why they were praised). Just like they say in Neram, there is good time and bad time, and this is indeed the good or even the best time for Thira. What it makes out of it is up-to the viewers, but so far it has been good. Now waiting for Salaam Kashmir – if it has stopped its procrastination, a procedure it has followed for such a long time and made the movie lovers wonder if it is a “mission impossible” or going to release on a future possible “6th day”.

Release date: 14th November 2013
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Starring: Shobana, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Deepak Parambol, Gaurav Vasudev, Sijoy Varghese, Amritha Anil

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Geethanjali

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What is Geethanjali? :: Even as all of us literature students have to answer this with Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, the collection which made him the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the only Indian to win the same so far. But as the Vampire Bat is not alive enough to talk about such great works of Indian literature, he is talking about a movie of the same name, not about the National Film Award-winning Telugu movie of the same name, but the recently released indirect sequel to the masterpiece which was Manichitrathazhu. It once again has Mohanlal as Dr. Sunny Joseph, one of the most loved characters in the Malayalam movie industry. Its been a long time since there was a Mohanlal movie too. Thanks to the hype and the well-made trailer, this became one of the most anticipated releases of the time, even when colliding with the other movies which released during the same weekend – Thira, Insidious: Chapter 2 and Ram-leela.

What is it about? :: There were two twins, Geetha and Anjali (both Keerthy Suresh) (together making the movie Geethanjali – if one of them was Chitra, the movie would have been Chitranjali, like the name of the studio which was used by the film?) and only Anjali is alive now, as the other is supposed to have committed suicide by jumping into the sea – and body not found. Anjali comes back to her home where she lived till her youth after her mother falls down from the terrace and goes into a comma. Her fiancee is also with him, and at the house, she has visions of her dead sister who also loved the same person. The vision of the ghost who seem to try to end her life to keep the lover away from her, makes life uncomfortable for the young lady. The fiancee Anoop (KP Nishan) calls Nakulan (Suresh Gopi) who recommends Dr. Sunny Joseph (Mohan Lal) for the case, but the question remains if the future bride can remain alive or at least in his senses before the man arrives, and if he can solve this mystery before anything horrible happens.

The defence of Geethanjali :: It is hard to defend a movie which has been so much critically panned in a nation where even Krrish 3 gets positive reviews in another corner. Yes, this corner is famous for movies which usually get two or two point five out of five, and this miserly area doesn’t give away much. But let me tell you that Geethanjali scores with its environment, the almost effective scary scenes and the added twist, with the funny elements supporting it quite well. The cinematography helps the movie a lot, and this should be the first visually superior horror movies in Malayalam movie industry. The last good horror movie was Sahasram, released in 2010, starring Suresh Gopi. This doesn’t live up to that either, but the attempt is there, even if not original or with the right flow. Check out for Keerthy Suresh too, as she scores in her first movie – there is something called legacy, and she might be some of the few who might be proving it. There should be no comparisons to Manichitrathazhu though – who compares Dracula or Interview with the Vampire to Twilight? And as Alexander Pope says in Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot: “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?”

The claws of flaw :: The worst thing that could happen to this movie is that it released with Thira, which is already a hit as it comes from a man who has cent percent success rate. I can remember that Vineeth Sreenivasan’s Thattathin Marayathu was a hit months before it released. I am also sure about watching it myself. The problem is that the more we praise that one, the more we tend to downgrade this movie. To add to it, there are the copied things, along with the ghost who looks like the daughter of the Avatar guy and The Ring girl. The mirror and the ceiling fan leaks instead of the television and there is a lot of hair like The Grudge. More details about similarities can be found in the details with spoilers section. One can say that the movie tried too much to be like Manichitrathazhu, and there is a big problem, for it can’t be the same as the world has changed and so did a lot of things. People are also looking for something of variety just like the original classic, and more flawless stuff including no small mistakes (like Armenian Orthodox Church cross having Latin inscriptions and there might be quite some concerning the twins).

Performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is the star psychatrist yet again, but this time he has less screen presence, and this surely won’t be the Dr Sunny that we remembers. He makes his entrance just before the second half of the movie, and once he enters, there is a lot of hope being built up – even as he lives up to it with his performance, there is not that much in the story. His combination with Innocent is very good and Swapna Menon is a pleasant surprise and a fine addition to the funny side of the movie. Harisree Ashokan also contributes in a lesser manner to the comic side. Nishan has a weak role, but does the romantic part very well, but not that much in he climax scene where the debutant Keerthy Suresh takes over with a wonderful performance to support the beautiful screen presence. She doesn’t go on to become another beautiful young actress who can’t act – she does incredibly well as the two sisters, too good for a debutant. Well, the beauty gets more than just the pass marks. Its her movie, as she is both the protagonist and the antagonist. Siddique and Nassar provides nice support, and Seema’s role is too limited – Madhu’s character was almost not needed.

Details with spoilers :: The story has so much in common with Nadiya kollappetta Rathri and Chaarulatha, the former was one of my favourites, and this impersonation for love was well performed by Kavya Madhavan and rightly investigated by the character of Suresh Gopi. The latter which was a remake of a 2007 movie Alone, had a lot of things which this movie now has in common. The twins who impersonate and kill for love was told as an investigative thriller in the first case, and as a pure ghost story in the second. The good thing is that they are not conjoined twins like the latter. Our movie has a psychological twist to the same, seemingly attempting to make it just like Manichitrathazhu, and also adding some comedy in between. If you haven’t watched the two movies, this shall be a new experience for you, or if you want to repeat the experience in another way, this movie can help. Those who don’t like the two movies much and don’t want any more of it, might want to skip it though. I felt so from some of the reactions from a few.  This is not going to be remembered in the later days like the well-crafted Devadoothan either.

How it could have been :: This could have been a lot better, there is no doubt about that. The ghost and the supernatural would have been better not shown and not observed by the family other than the girl. The blue ghost could have done better if shown just in the shadows without the support of water and the fallen hair. The sea on one side is a clear negative on a house which formerly made us feel that it is at a remote location on some hill or mountain. The darkness itself could have been an ally to a possible psychological thriller in this one. The songs might have done better if not coming up when not needed. The suspense could have been made more shocking even without the support of deaths. Mohanlal could have made an entry earlier. Overall, there should be no following the policy of the early classic, instead having some life of its own, keeping further distance from the movies which were used as inspirations. I would be surprised if even the C.I.D Moosa sequel can be any good considering the limited imagination involved with making sequels. Meanwhile, a horrible drop for this movie might discourage horror movies in Malayalam, and I am not going to stand that!

Release date: 14th November 2013
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Priyadarshan
Starring: Mohanlal, Keerthy Suresh, KP Nishan, Swapna Menon, Siddique, Innocent, Ganesh Kumar, Nassar, Madhu, Seema, Harisree Ashokan, Chris Gayle Kuttappan, Suresh Gopi (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Insidious II

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It was in 2011 that we were treated with one of the “different” horror movies in the name of Insidious which was partially copied to Hindi by Bollywood’s last sequel to Raaz. Now we have its sequel, in the same year as two horror big-shots release, including The Conjuring and Carrie. Never before did more than one horror movie release here in the same year, and I almost thought that this was never going to release, just like The Chainsaw 3D, Evil Dead and The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Georgia. But here we are, with this sequel, even as the original never released on the big screen here and we had to strive to get to it. It didn’t release on that original date of a Friday the 13th though, as it just released here on a Friday 15th, about two months later. Its trailer had reached here long ago, and was well received by the audience who had a great experience with The Conjuring which itself had delayed – all three horror movies releasing late here – something with the censor board or looking forward to their performances in other parts of the world before the risk is taken here? May be they underestimate the audience quite a lot. They can end their devotion to the series if there was any, and look for cheap gore.

After a small flashback into the childhood of our major father character during the time of his encounter with the Lady in Black, the Bride, the movie takes over the story from where it had left off, with Elise (Lin Shaye) dead, and the demon from the other world taking over the body of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). There is a lot of mystery over the death too. With Josh doubted by Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) and his children, Lorraine Lambert (Barbara Hershey) goes to visit Elise’s friends and partners in finding the supernatural after feeling strange occurences in the house and even seeing a woman in white. The same mysterious woman knocks out Renai after abducting their little kid for a few moments. The piano playing by itself is just one of the strange things occuring in the house. Lorraine meets up with Carl (Steve Coulter), one of the old friends of Elise, who is another paranormal investigator using his dices to contact the spirits from the other world. Through the dices, after contacting Elise, they find out that they will know something from Our Lady of Angels hospital where Lorraine used to work as a nurse during her young days.

There Lorraine remembers the story of Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick), a patient who committed suicide by jumping from the top of the hospital, as he appeared to her after his death. They are guided to his home, and they soon find out that the spirit which is leading them might not be of Elise at all, and it is not a good one nor is it friendly. They come across the story of a serial killer and his mother who used to terrorize him throughout her life as well as after it. It becomes clear to them that Josh is possessed and not himself, even as the detective couldn’t find him guilty of the murder of Elise. Renai and the kids are in danger, and so are they themselves. There are only a few ideas left for their survival, and one of them might be to drug Josh and bring the original person back to his body; the other one might be to find him in the other world itself. With time running out, and a serial killer ready to come back to this world through Josh’s body, this time more powerful than before, can they make the right decision and succeed or does the demon killer take charge start its killing procedure?

So where does the sequel stand in front of the original? I would consider it as slightly better than the original, even as most of the critics seemed to have found it negative if not average. I was surprised by the same though. The movie has an unsettling atmosphere supported by a truly phenomenal settings which has been used to support the same, and give us a truly paranormal feeling. The tricks to scare the audience might feel a little repetitive, but are used in the right manner with correct effects. Yes, it i genuinely scary, and undoubtedly scarier than its predecessor. There is the presence of more scary moments and it explains most of the things which were left unexplained in the first, and also contributes to the horror of the same. The spirits are pretty much good both in the real world and the other. The Lady in White and the Bride in Black are just two of those figures which rule the screen. There is nothing like the man possessed though. Insidious: Chapter 2 undoubtedly becomes the next best horror movie to The Conjuring here, and it is still insignificant as there are only two English horror movies released here. Yes, it is effective and undoubtedly very creepy and successfully scaring people. But do not watch this if you are not a horror fan or you are pseudo-horror fan who says that this isn’t enough for “the great ME” – the things pride can do to you, my dear vain man.

Patrick Wilson is the star here, and he plays the astral traveler possessed by the demon with so much ease. We can see his transformation as he becomes more and more of the demon who has taken over his body. He seems to be a person perfectly fitting horror movies – loved his performance in The Conjuring too. He was a gifted spirit walker, but is now kept out of his body by the demon, both roles well done. There is a little bit of The Shining’s Jack Torrance in him for sure. Rose Byrne has a sweet and innocent screen presence, and Barbara Hershey is no stranger to such things, tracing back to playing that victim of supernatural sexual liasions in The Entity – her presence itself is a real boost to the movie. Jocelin Donahue plays Lorraine’s younger self to perfection, and Lin Shaye’s Elise is very good, and her younger self played by Lindsay Seim is no different. Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker provides the comic relief which is very less throughout this serious movie. Tom Fitzpatrick’s villain is strong and ruthless, yet made scary more by the visual imagery and effects rather than anything else, and so is the case with Danielle Bisutti’s Lady in white, or the Mother of Crane. The kids have limited role this time, and are no longer the focus of the movie.

Thanks to James Wan for giving us this fine sequel, the third of his brilliant horror collection beginning from Insidious and going through The Conjuring. It is very much a necessary sequel and it only adds to the value of its predecessor even as it doesn’t reach above The Conjuring. None of the two movies of the series are to be looked at alone, as they perfectly compliments each other, adding something which perfects the other. There has been nothing wrong with the badly reviewed horror flicks of the year, The Chainsaw 3D, The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Georgia, and this one – but the critics choose to devalue them for almost no real reason. They can’t understand that the Lady in White or the mother was mentally not right. I wonder why would they feel bad about people in the other world being white, and how the people in this world are able to fight with the demons in the spectral world. People are looking for strange questions while it is not the movie that makes sense, but their questions. They can’t find the answers, but it doesn’t mean that they can take the creativity of the viewer as a big zero, for nowadays it is the common arts graduate who has the right imagination. But still, The Conjuring might be the horror movie of the decade if we consider The Cabin in the Woods as not just horror.

It is the season of demons, that is for sure – just because of one thing, that Krrish 3 has been given four out of five by some strange people. Such acts of evil has forced me to keep the rating of this movie a little higher than I intended to. There are weird people in this part of the world who rate the movies of their language high, and the others low – and some of them follows the foot steps of those who reviewed it from America and Europe, but in that case, one has to consider the fact that what third rate movies like Krrish 3 would get if they review the same would be zero out of five if no negatives are allowed. So following their rating for English movie is pure hopelessness as long as they are going to rate horrible Bollywood movies with a consistent four out of five just because it has superstar sons acting in it or the same will make the pathetic fan-boys and girls incredibly happy. May be they can learn something from the Malayalam movie critics who give a maximum of three out five for the best movie of the year. Our world will only get better when the demonic fans disappear and all actors are considered as equal performers – hope Insidious could do that.

Release date: 15th November 2013 (India); 13th September 2013 (US)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Lindsay Seim, Jocelin Donahue, Andrew Astor, Danielle Bisutti, Tom Fitzpatrick, Michael Beach

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Monkey Pen

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I can still remember looking at one of those advertisement boards set up for this movie on the side of the road. It was quite big and it made me wonder what it is actually about and what can it do with such a title which is strange but not weird for the new generation Malayalam movies. It was the time when I had just watched Captain Phillips, and I wondered what this title Philips and the Monkey Pen was about. Yes, it was strange indeed for a Malayalam movie – it did have the picture of a kid and Jayasurya who plays his father. Another poster had Remya Nambeesan and also Vijay Babu, there was one more which had Joy Mathew in it with them. Yet the question would remain what was it all about? There have been many pathetic children’s movies in this part of the world, none of which was close to being interesting, and now they have come up with a strange title too. But how did it turn out? Now thats a surprise, not just the regular one, but a cute, sweet and more interesting than any fake films which are projected as family movies. I now give you with something from the movie – “I thought the truth would pain you”; reply: “The truth isn’t bitter; its just that the lies are excessively sweet”.

So here you welcome the first real family movie of the year, and it is indeed what they have projected; the all generation movie of the age, and it is a shame that it had to be postponed for movies of other languages; Arrambam, and more tragically Krrish 3. If any movie is to be shifted for such a fake hero movie like Krrish 3, it shows how messed up our audience is. Let me tell you that I am glad to see the number of audience even for the morning show during a working day, and I am happy to see the response of the viewers. I would be surprised if it didn’t them in one way or the other, and the claps in the end signified the same. I can only hope that it won’t lose the battle and give up early to the bigger movies which are to come this weekend, Geethanjali, Thira and may be Salaam Kashmir, plus the movies from other languages about which we can’t be sure now. Well, it is the duty of all the good movie watchers to make movies like this success, instead of going for movies like Krrish 3, Besharam and Boss. Please do support this movie! Show it to your kids for sure.

I begin talking about this movie by introducing you to the antagonist, the evil villain who is the manifestation of the wretched demon from hell, Mephisto-maths, or rather Mathematics which lived in the capital of hell, Pandemonium before its arrival to Earth. Pardon my use of language, as I have been as much troubled by this third rate piece of junk known as Mathematics as much as our protagonist Ryan Philip (Master Sanoop). Without that subject, world would have been awesome, I know it and so does Ryan. He has started his battle in the fifth standard as he tries to find a way to find a way past his class teacher Pappan (Vijay Babu) who teaches the most loathed subject of the school. He is not alone in this battle against Satan Maths and his helpers, the Maths teacher and the Maths expert of the class. There are four of them in total, as they are the freaks of the class who come late in dirty clothes and fails to do the home work. They are always thinking about how to send this demon back to hell.

The first idea is to find a girlfriend who can help him in Maths, but as Ryan is not that much of a popular kid in the class and neither is he studious or good at sports, that doesn’t really work out. Ryan is the son of a Christian father Roy Philip (Jayasurya) and a Muslim mother Sameera Roy(Remya Nambeesan), and none of the families are in touch which the couple after they married against the wishes of their parents. The only contact they later come across is Richard Philip (Joy Mathew), Roy’s father and a former captain of a ship. It is from him that Ryan gets a pen called monkeypen which is said to have helped in achieving impossible things. For Ryan, there are not many impossible things which should be possible – as it is just about the bloodsucking monster from the other dimension, which has surrounded his life in a python form – the evil Mathematics. The story deals with how Ryan overcomes all the problems of his life which starts and ends with Anaconda Maths with the help of a pen. Well, there is no real supernatural or magic involved in this one, and don’t let such thoughts stop you. Meanwhile, did I feel shades of existentialism? I doubt that.

There are lots of lessons to be learnt from this movie, and it is more of a morality tale wearing the visage of a children’s story, and with its veneer of simple childhood talks and experiences, the movie explores themes like love, truth, faith and duty. But the movie rarely preaches, as it shows rather than try to teach; it inspires rather than try to put something on the viewers heads. On one side, it tells the story of a kid who is hoping to do well, but is a mannerless boy who doesn’t respect elders, comes late to the class in terrible uniform and obviously doesn’t want to study. With the disrespect to authority and the elders, he is a sample of the bad next generation which is to come with no respect for values and traditions. On the other side, it is the story of the change that faith, love and care from parents can bring upon children. Ryan’s transformation is the major theme of the story, and most of the questions of this age comes up within the same. As a whole, this is not just the story of Ryan, or it shouldn’t be so, as its goodness prevails. The other characters of the movie are not avoided too, and in that case, it is further interesting.

Master Sanoop plays the protagonist of the movie, the man with the monkeypen. His performance is something which has to be judged just by viewing and not by talking about it. The same can be said about the other kids too, from his partners in crime to his arch nemesis in studies as well as the one of unattainable love. Jayasurya makes an awesome father in this movie, and this is another one of different, yet fantastic performances. Almost the same can be said about Remya Nambeesan who plays the mother who herself is immatured to an extent, but stands for his son when in need. Joy Mathew doesn’t lag in his role but rather scores when needed, and Vijay Babu is very good as the teacher, one of the most dynamic characters in a children’s film. Innocent has a small role as the boy’s imaginary friend whom he calls God, and joins him in his pains and agonies, removing his doubts and making him confidence, and the wisdom from this divine one adds, but is underused and pales in comparison to the pen. It might remind us of the character of Saint Francis of Assisi in Pranchiyettan and the Saint, in a lesser manner. Mukesh’s Principal is funny, and well done. To add, there is the beauty of cinematography!

I was highly impressed by how the story-line progresses. I thought this was a children’s story and I might get disappointed, but wow! They even managed to put a background story to the legend of monkeypen with the records of the construction of Willingdon Island, the first man-made island in India. The scenes involving the pen and Sir Robert Bristow is brilliantly taken, with no scope for any questioning. There is some brilliant writing behind this one, there is indeed magic of some sort involved with this one rather than inside it. When nostalgia calls, I have wondered about the Maths side of this story, and thought if I could have loved Maths if I had better teachers? By the time I got to the end of eighth standard, I had almost completely hated the subject even as I scored well enough for the board exams, and finally lost touch with it intentionally due to my lack of interest. Then, how did my love for English Literature come up? That was due to two of the English teachers whom I admired – such is the story of most of us, as good teachers make students love their subjects and score better in most of the cases except for some who are beyond hope. Meanwhile, the name of the grandfather Richard Philip, captain of the ship – ring any bells? 😀

Release date: 7th November 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Rojin Philip, Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Master Sanoop, Jayasurya, Remya Nambeesan, Innocent, Joy Mathew, Mukesh, Vijay Babu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Thor II

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***The first three paragraphs have details of a few Indian superhero movies; skip if you are not interested – I had to say this before the review as it was something I owed to real movies and true movie fans; I was asked to write about a ridiculous Hindi movie, not something I am ready for. Well, as I begin here, I dedicate this review to all of my friends who suffered with a painful poison which was sent into the theatres of India packed inside a horrible catastrophe which is commonly called Krrish 3. There were too many of them to be named here, and I am glad that most of my friends are sensible ones. But that was more of a movie for Hritik Roshan fans and little kids which is the only reason it could be forgiven despite of copying from too many Hollywood movies and adding horrible melodrama and pathetic graphics to it. From my friends and the internet, I could collect the names of a number of movies from which it copied. X-Men, Man of Steel, The Avengers, Iron Man and The Matrix are the major ones. Toad, Mystique, Sabretooth, Professor X – Magneto Hybrid they are all there; and Jean Grey you are always there! Okay, do copy; I have known a good number of nice copied movies in Hindi, but this kind of copying is absurd. Why lift from this many movies and why even copy when you have so much scope for great ideas right in our nation!

Now the others, who will never be my friends – the ones who liked this movie, and coming up with the typical lie that “they at least they tried” – to be frank, they didn’t try; they copied and instead of concentrating on what is Indian, and on the values and traditions that the nation has, they concentrated on style, glamour and pathetic graphics, to make it interesting for no sensible person. Don’t try what you can’t do right and show off your weaknesses, stick to the strengths instead! These people who come up with such pathetic excuses of “trying” for a third movie of a cent percent copied series, don’t deserve to be talked to. Please don’t like a movie just because your favourite actor is in there or the characters talk your language or as it is from your state or nation, but look at the merits. Ever heard about a romantic comedy in Malayalam called Amen? See how CGI is used to perfection in that low budget movie which could have done fine without it, but it contributed immensely and really well. May be the movie makers could learn from Shaktimaan, India’s only real superhero who is rooted in its rich traditions and teaches something good to its citizens and children. There was actually a lot original about it, even as it is not a flawless or a pure innovation. It was a great thing for its age, but Krrish 3 is outdated for this age just like its two predecessors which copied from E.T. and Superman. Please, my dear movie makers, stop making bad movies just because you need to make a lot of money – you owe something to the viewers, or come up with a notice “stupid, retarded movie”.

Krrish 3 has succeeded though, with high scores at the box-office, and it shows our inability to accept the good and reject the bad, and I have decided to skip all the Hritik Roshan movies until there is redemption. I actually had enough of him with that horrible Agneepath itself, and it is a shame that the talent is wasted. His first movie, Kaho Naa Pyar Hai will always be his best. Even as some of my friends said that Shaktimaan was better, the rest told me about the stories in some of the Malayalam books for children, Balarama, Poombaatta and Balamangalam were better. There were a few superheroes there – two of them were monkeys, one of them a little devil and another a rat. All of these were better superheroes in heart and also in the brain. My question is about why people go for movies which has trailers like this one? This movie is a curse on the Indian movie industry and I shall not watch such nonsense even for bashing it. I shall stick to those movies which doesn’t bring shame when there is a lot of potential for greatness. See innovation in the form of Go Goa Gone and Madras Cafe. They could have made a good innovative sequel to Krrish, but they spoiled it, and congratulations to all who are making it a blockbuster, and thanks to the paid reviews. Just don’t copy from Thor for Krrish 4 – it is a humble request.***

So we know that why the world is going to end and why my hope in humanity is fading. Now lets leave the movie of kids and fans which came to existence to destroy good movies. Lets get to the movie which has become my second favourite Marvel movie ever, and also become my favourite superhero movie of the year 2013. Yes, lets back to this wonderful sequel of Thor which has restored our hope in superhero movies. Let me deal with the first question that comes to the mind of any viewer. Is it better than its predecessor? The answer is surely yes. There is a lot about this movie which does a great job in fitting not only into the Norse mythology, but also into the Marvel universe. There is a lot of great graphics and special effects which beautify this movie which is a treat to watch in 3D even as the 3D possibilities could have been developed even further. Its visual beauty is comparable to not many movies. There is a little more needed from the story-line too, but not much. There is a good flow of the plot, and there is nothing lost, and Thor: The Dark World is a real good addition to the Marvel cinematic universe. The only good Avenger hero movie I like better would be Captain America: The First Avenger.

The story beings with talks about the legendary story of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the leader of the Dark Elves who are on a mission to destroy the world with a weapon known as the Aether, but were defeated by Odin (Anthony Hopkins)’s father, Bor. But our leader and a group of Dark Elves escape from their home world of Svartalfheim, and knowing not about the same, Bor hides the weapon deep in an unknown world. During the present day, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned for his crimes on humans, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is on a mission to restore peace in the nine realms with his friends, and is haunted by the memories of the one human he loved, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Meanwhile, Jane makes attempts to contact Thor and in the process, gets teleported to another world where Aether was hidden, and is infected with the same. Seeing the trouble, Thor takes her to Asgard, but doesn’t succeed in taking the thing out of her as it defends itself and the story of Aether and Dark Elves were too long forgotten too.

The Dark Elves come to know about it and attacks the city both from inside and outside in an effort to get to Jane and get their dark material. They end up killing Thor’s mother, Frigga (Rene Russo) and escape before help arrives. Asgard is left without its shields, most of its soldiers and a good number of turrets after the surprise attack by the Dark Elves who used brutal dark energy as well as stealth as their weapons. But striken by grief over the death of his wife, Odin decides to wait for the Darl Elves at Asgard and strike with all he got and fight until death. But seeing the devastation of their capital city, Thor decides to take the attack to the Dark Elves with the help of Loki who also agrees in order to avenge their mother. They decide to take Jane with them and get rid of the Aether, even as Odin had completely prohibited it and it would be treason. It is obvious that the Dark Elves would also target Earth, and as Jane found signs of it in London, it would surely be there. Can Thor and Loki work together to save more than one world or will the trickster take his own side? Now there are some good surprises in wait right there. The talks about them not being gods, and still living five thousand years is interesting.

Chris Hemsworth saves the day again as Thor, as if he is custom made for that role. We love this character, and we see the man again in good form after that great performance in Rush. Natalie Portman contributes significantly, and I would wonder if I can resist any of her movies. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is as good as ever, but needed more screentime. Anthony Hopkins is good as usual, and Jaimie Alexander could have had more to do. I have to say that I loved the comic releief Kat Dennings and her intern provided when Loki is not around. Christopher Eccleston’s villain is also a wonderful pure evil creature, who will come to our minds, every time we play a computer game involving mythical creatures and races. I used to choose Dark Elves in most of them. Another thing I loved was the way they showed the hypocrisy of the people who had chosen not to believe the man who spoke the truth – it is true, for science has indeed become the modern man’s superstition, and we will be force fed by many things which are supposed to have proven, but are actually not. Actually, what all are really experimented and proven, is something that common man will never know. They will tell us that they landed on Moon, Mars and everything, and we will just believe them because scientists are the new kings and clergy of the medieval ages, and the only thing we will know for sure is that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Release date: 8th November 2013
Running time: 112 minutes
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Arrambam

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✠ Before I go on with this one, I have to tell you that October was the month with the most visits for this blog, for which I wish to thank each one of you. My other two blogs also had a fantastic beginning to the month of November, even as I can’t say the same about this one. I also wish all of my readers a very Happy Deepavali (Diwali) and a belated Kerala Piravi Day and a very belated Happy Halloween. I should have wished with the earlier post, but it was written a lot earlier and I didn’t want to mess up with it. I hope you had three wonderful days, October 31st, November 1st, and yesterday the 2nd. Coming back to this week’s choices of movies, this really is a dull week, with no Hollywood releases coming this way and no Malayalam movie releases at all. With that sadness concerning the beginning of a month which didn’t have a good start as Ender’s Game didn’t come this way as expected, I have to take you back to the legendary vampire after my journey to the local theatre to watch another movie, this time a Tamil action thriller flick.

Count Dracula: So you are back. I had checked and found no good English movies this weekend. Did you watch that guy who flies like Superman and acts like Man of Steel and fights an army of mutants including a Professor X – Magneto hybrid, Mystique, Miss Wolverine, Juggernaut, Toad etc? Did you enjoy that movie which should rather be titled as Superman vs X-Men?

Vampire Bat: No, why would you think so? I had seen the trailer and observed its inability right there. I am not a Hritik Roshan fan, a little kid or someone with no other option. Neither do I get free tickets for any movie. It showed that it had no potential from its poor trailer with some graphics which is inferior to Arrambam, a movie which doesn’t need CGI support at all.

Count Dracula: I heard that Koi Mil Gaya is a shameless copy of E.T. and Krrish is just a pathetic excuse to cash in the power of a man who has given us so many better roles. At a time when actors like Arshad Warsi and John Abraham are choosing the right movies, it is a shame that one of the best looking actors had to go with this one.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after watching Besharam, I had decided that I shall not be part of such shamelessness For the same reason, I didn’t watch Boss which was the remake of one of the most pathetic movies in Malayalam. Some bad movies do teach us lessons. Arrambam is the good result of that lesson which was provided with the pain which was Besharam, and I guess I am looking forward to a few more Tamil movies soon.

Count Dracula: So what has it got? You rarely watch a Tamil movie. Anniyan was your favourite, and you watched ony two this year; David and Maryan – see my memory? I never get to use it these days and its nice you keep it working by coming here and talking about these movies of the soul.

Vampire Bat: Let the brain of blood work, as the story revolves around Ashok Kumar (Ajith), a former member of anti-terrorist squad, who is on a mission to avenge the death of his friend due to faulty bullet proof jackets which are provided to security forces – but he was imprisoned and left for dead along with his friends and family. He is supported by his lover Maya (Nayanthara) and a smart, but reluctant computer hacker Arjun (Arya). When the latter feels that he is doing something very bad, and is left with no choice as they keep his lover Anitha (Taapsee Pannu) at gunpoint, he lets the police know and Ashok is arrested after a bomb blast and a car chase. The remaining story deals with him taking revenge on the corrupt Home Minister (Mahesh Manjrekar) and his supporter and the senior police officer (Atul Kulkarni) who were involved in the scam.

Count Dracula: That should remind you of Kamal Haasan’s best Malayalam movie, Chanakyan. Wasn’t that the day you said Urmila Matondkar is the best looking actress of the time after watching that in a VCR? It dealt with one man taking revenge on the politician who destroyed his family, using electronic gadgets and a reluctant helper.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but this is different in a number of ways. The first thing is that there is that relevant social message at the time of scams and corruption, but not something that would inspire you to the horizon. Then we have Ajith Kumar at his best. This is the first time I watch his movie in the theatre, and I can say the same about Arya. Chanakyan was undoubtedly the intellectually superior movie and it was an extraordinary performance from our legendary actor. This one is more of the entertainer type.

Count Dracula: Well, I love that actor – see how he never seems to get too old; the only other person who doesn’t seem to get old at all is Vijay. How does he manage to stay as a young man wonders me. That reminds me that I have to watch Thuppakki, as some gypsies had told me that it is awesome. Get me a DVD some day.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if I decide to watch that. One has to admire Arya’s performance too, as he provides a lot of fun and lighter moments, even as some of them doesn’t work. But, without him this might not have worked this well. One can’t resist liking Taapsee Pannu, being the cute drama queen of the movie, even as there is the doubt if there was some overdose, and if there was the need to explore that drama in another way. Nayantara is there perfectly suited for the role that she plays. The cast saves the movie, and so does the style.

Count Dracula: So there is style too. I have seen that photo of Ajith riding Ducati, and I have my own reasons to believe that there were cooling glasses, bikes and slow motion. I am pretty good at this stuff, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is a treat for Ajith fans, and none of them should miss this movie. There is the abundance of cooling glass, and there is only one bike, plus the slow motion is comparatively less considering what we see these days. The songs are pretty good too. To add it, Arya doesn’t do his BA Romantics like Ranbir Kapoor did in Besharam for horror, as even in the exaggeration, he keeps his cool, and Taapsee Pannu has a good chemistry with him, that is for sure.

Count Dracula: So tell me what works other than the cast and style. Also tell me what doesn’t work other than the overdose of cooling glass and a little exaggeration.

Vampire Bat: Did I forget Kishore who is strong throughout? Did I forget the good performances of the villains? Add them to the list of positives too. The story starts off well with bomb blasts and a flashback which is romantic to the core, and also funny. The movie has a climax which can give positive or negative feedbacks, but for me, it is slightly on the positive. The first half is undoubtedly better than the second. The flashback story of our main hero is less interesting, and one has to wonder why one has to put a festival into every song – is that because the world is running out of ideas? ninety five percent of the time, it is Holi too.

Count Dracula: I see there is too many things mixed about it. But considering the fact that there has been so many bad superstar masala movies in your own language from Lokpaal, Kammath and Kammath and Sound Thoma to the recently depressing Sringaravelan, I guess this can prove as a lesson about how entertainers can be well made.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but there will still be movies like Besharam, and the shame shall continue in this world of humans, but your universe shall live forever as you don’t have to watch such things. 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): This is not a perfect movie, but there is no reason why one shouldn’t watch this movie this weekend, even while claiming that it is nothing new or innovative. This is a wonderful Deepavali gift for the fans of Ajith, and I welcome everyone to the theatres to choose this one over Krrish 3. Still, one question remains about Bollywood movies. Why is it that movies like Shahid and The Lunchbox doesn’t release in local theatres, but those like Besharam, Krrish 3 and Chennai Express does? We are so profit-oriented and the common man needs better brains; hope some zombie gives one to them instead of eating – a much needed sacrifice.

✠ In this battle of heavyweights, Arrambam clearly outweighs as well as outsmarts Krrish 3 with its theme, and it is evident from the kind of audience who are going to watch both movies. But in the box-office, both will be winners, as this is Deepavali and there are no Hollywood movies gaining entrance, and Malayalam movies have kept away. This is my third Tamil movie of the year in the theatres, after David and Maryan – I have to say that there has not been much disappointment related to them, they were all good enough to be watched with one kind of mood or the other. I shall wait for Thor: The Dark World for now, and until then, if you face two choices at once, you know which movie to go for. No, this doesn’t come from an Ajith fan, and for fans this should be a movie which is not to be missed at any cost; for others, this is an entertainer fulled by performances and style; learn from it dear self-proclaimed mass entertainers and masala action flicks, for this movie can teach you many things.

Release date: 31st October 2013
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Vishnuvardhan
Starring: Ajith Kumar, Arya, Nayantara, Taapsee Pannu, Kishore, Mahesh Manjrekar, Atul Kulkarni, Suman Ranganathan, Akshara Gowda

arrambam copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sinister

sinister (4)

There was a time when I had a longing for movies of pure horror rather than the ones with blood and gore. My prayers were answered this year with The Conjuring, but I later came to know that there was a movie in 2012 which I missed, that was also dependent less on the blood and gore and more on the shocks and thrills. That movie was Sinister, and even as I almost confused it with Insidious for apparently no specific reason, here is another addition to my long list of favourite horror movies which can extend beyond any long paper. This is one of those movies which got released before our theatres had the courage to release horror movies here – lack of cowardice which they gained with The Conjuring and its long run in the theatres here. There was the pure absence of horror movies in the theatres before that, with the exception of hybrid movies like those of Resident Evil series. It is a strange thing, because they could have had a lot of success with Silent Hill last year and Evil Dead this year, but they decided to keep both out of theatres just like they did to Sinister. But there would be not many people who wouldn’t know of this movie, and that is a certainty.

We have the director of Hellraiser: Inferno and The Exorcism of Emily Rose working on this one – that was inspiring even as I can’t recollect the first movie and I never did watch the second. He would also direct Deus Ex, a movie based on the awesome computer game of the same name. The presence of Ethan Hawke was also interesting, as the last time I saw him was in an action-horror mix of a movie called Daybreakers, and I loved his performance in it. The movie also had a very interesting poster almost giving us the feeling of presence of a serial killer more and of a supernatural entity less. But what it gives us would be another result, a mixture of horror which has evolved into something innovative and new compared to the other horror movies of the year. I had also expected a lot of blood and gore, but this one has not much of it, and that works mostly to its advantage rather than against it. From what we see, it is just a simple horror film with innovation inside it. But it might be more than that, as there is a lot to this movie than what meets the eye. We have a lot of interesting things in the movie which arouse our curiosity by a good margin.

The movie begins with a Super 8 footage depicting a family of four standing under a tree with heads covered, hands tied and nooses around their necks, and someone causing their deaths by hanging. We can later see that a true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves into the house with his family of his wife, daughter and son. He was not having a good run as a crime writer for sometimes, and believes that this might change his situation. He doesn’t tell his family that this was the house where the murders took place. By staying there, he hopes to unveil something about the murders and write about it in his book thus bringing him back to fame and fortune. As he tries to mix fact and fiction without much hope, he soon discovers a projector and several reels of Standard 8 mm footage under the label of home movies. To his shock, he discovers that they are rather snuff movies, and it shows different families being brually murders in several ways: being burnt in a car, drowned in a pool, throats being cut, being run over by a lawn mower and finally the hanging which was shown in the beginning of the movie.

He actually notices a figure with a demonic face witnessing all these murders from some part of the screen. He also discovers childish drawings showing the murders, along with sketches of a demonic figure, whose name is written as Mr. Boogie. He finds out that the sketches are made by the one member of the family who went missing in the case of each murder which took place at different places during different time periods, with the helps of a deputy at the nearby station. He feels that there is some killer specialized in the occult or demon worship behind it after seeing a sign and knowing that it is a little kid who went missing all the time. He feels that he is on to something huge this time. Trying to decipher the symbol seen in the films, he comes to know that it is relate to a pagan Sumerian deity named Bughuul (Nick King), who would usually kill entire families before he takes their children into his world and consume their souls. Meanwhile, strange things happen at his house, as he has visions of dead, decaying children as well as the monster. His son has night terrors and his daughter draws strange things on the wall. So the game is on – are they hallucinations, an extremely smart killer or something supernatural at work?

Ethan Hawke is the star of the movie, as the man who investigates for money and fame, and almost feels that he has got something about a serial killer which the police didn’t, but later realizes that by moving into that house and searching for information, he has put the lives of himself and his family in trouble. We can see him making a sincere effort to portray his character who is determined at first, hopeful later and beyond all expectations by the end. The character himself is the tragic flaw which has them in peril, or accurately talking about it, there is the desire to unravel a mystery which was not supposed to be known to him. In one way or the other, this writer becomes another Doctor Faustus and even without signing a deal with the demons, brings about bleeding dagger on the head of his family and himself. His idea of hiding this information from his family, and telling his wife that the place is nowhere near any house where any murders took place doesn’t help at all. He might have been a best-selling author with a lot of fans, but not everyone would care about the same. He needs this work to be done so badly, and we can see his feelings, and well done Ethan Hawke in bringing the same to us.

Our director also bounces back from a not that good remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves, and gives us a lot to expect from Deus Ex. The movie shocks with its child images itself [Spoilers Ahead – you may skip to the last paragraph] One of the most shocking things in the movie is the realization about the children, as they wanders around in their decaying state – as if the result of the evil that has befallen them in the form of Mr. Boogie. Yes, the children are damned, and taken to the other world of the evil deity whom we can interpret as a demon. Before they are taken, there is the manipulation by the creature they call Mr. Boogie who makes them kill all their family members themselves before taken into the other dimension inside that movie. The process repeats very often as the creatures takes his own collection of souls to feed on. We do remember the 2008 horror movie The Children, don’t we? Yes, the children are the evil ones, manipulated out of their supposed innocence, like William Golding depicted in Lord of the Flies. This movie also asserts the fact that they can be easily corrupted – by circumstance or by a villain; or even by the circumstance which is the villain.

One has to wonder if Sinister gives a little too much and fails to keep the suspense glowing till the end. But it is a clear fact that they have rightly added those shocks to help the procedure. It does remind one of many movies, but none directly and therefore it is quite fresh for most of the audience. This could rather be a predecessor to what awesomeness which was to come next year in the form of The Conjuring. I did feel that keeping the creature from the other world as simply the devil would have been much better, as it is more of an entity whom we can attribute taking human souls with. With its theory of goodness plagued by the branches of evil, and the multiple shocks involving decaying children as well as that shadowy figure that is Mr. Boogie, Sinister does something that most of the horror movies fail; that is to bring a powerful plot with lots of brains behind it. The creepy atmosphere rightly ornate this movie with such an ease, and if someone other than Ethan Hawke scores, it is our own monster from the movie with right support from the kids who have turned into his own children.

PS: Thanks to Simon (http://simonsayswatchthis.wordpress.com/) for the recommendation 😀

Release date: 12th October 2012
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick King, Victoria Leigh, Blake Mizrahi, Cameron Ocasio, Ethan Haberfield, Danielle Kotch

sinister copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.