Ezhu Sundara Raathrikal

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The seven beautiful nights :: The name of the movie means “seven beautiful nights” and I would like wish everyone a very happy seven nights from Christmas to New Year, and then for eternity. You all deserve a great Christmas and an awesome New year, not only this year, but also for the years to come. The movie doesn’t do the same though, as it tells the story of a man’s life seven days away from his marriage and its title more inspired from an older song rather than anything else, and it is undoubtedly nothing like the twelve days of Christmas. It is the sixth movie of Dileep this year, and the fourth one in which he is playing the single leading role. This is also the third one directed by Lal Jose this year, and as both are undisputed super-hit providers, there was going to be no doubt about this one having good initial collections and having an extended run, even with Drishyam getting terrific reports and Oru Indian Pranaya Katha working fine enough. There has also been a certain amount of hype surrounding this movie, and it was always expected to do good.

What is it about? :: Aby (Dileep) has been enjoying his bachelor life for a very long time, and had been fighting hard to stay unmarried despite his parents trying their best to make him marry any girl. The situation changes when he decides to marry a model named Ann (Parvathy Nambiar) who was also evading marriage for quite some time. As both of them seemed to be going in a path without marriage, their parents are more than happy that they have chosen each other. But as Aby’s former lover Sini (Rima Kallingal) returns to Cochin and he decides to give her his wedding card along with boasting about his fiancee, the situation changes. As he losses his cigarette packet at her house, he is forced to help her when it is found out. At the same time, they seem to be indirectly related to the attack on a man who threatens them. He has to find the mystery behind that attack which sends the man into a comma, along with making sure that his fiancee as well as her husband Alex (Murali Gopy) doesn’t come to know more about it, and that the police doesn’t find anything about their presence during the attack.

The defence of Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal :: There is lot of fun involved in the first half, and there is good scope for a thriller from the moment a twist is introduced in the movie. Dileep scores with what he does the best and the movie goes on the lines of a thriller with a comic touch and successfully catches the attention of viewers, and stays fine till the interval. Unlike what seemed to be implied by the trailer, there is no adultery involved in it, and there is a clean environment maintained throughout the movie without the vulgar jokes. There is confusion created by certain things, but none of them are intentional, and there is no real villain in the world of this movie – nobody really does anything unforgivable, and by the end of the movie, all of them are able to live happily ever after, understanding all the mistakes counting from zero to infinity. The movie might have been trying to look into the stupidity and meaninglessness of most of the relations of the world, and how the most simple things lead to disasters which is actually the result of some random act of buffoonery. We can hope that this will bring hope that one can keep the vulgar comedy flicks of extreme buffoonery like Sringaravelan away.

Claws of flaw :: The movie keeps losing its power in the second half until it looks like a sad Superman sitting in front of kryptonite and singing the praise of Lex Luthor. It trails Lal Jose’s other 2013 flicks, Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum in humour and Immanuel in goodness, the two factors which should have saved this movie if added in abundance. The movie’s power as a thriller fades as the suspense is revealed, and all the things become just minor factors of no relevance, and the movie itself becomes too insignificant as if it was made to justify Sekhar Menon singing “ezhu sundara raathrikal”. There are also unnecessary characters and strange subplots which feeds on the movie rather than add to it, being parasites in its journey towards being worthy. There are also too many things which could have kept all these troubles away, and one specific thing could have nullified all the confusion. The last few minutes drag and makes the audience feel like there has been a time-shift which has caused a slowing down of their lives. Some people are married, some are not, a few are divorced, some wishes to marry someone, others are going to get married and the rest needn’t marry – marriage all around, that is what the movie is mostly about!

Performers of the soul :: Dileep is the one who is able to hold this movie together and keep the people interested. Unlike his other movies like Sringaravelan which was horribly dependent on bad jokes and vulgar humour, this one is a decent world which keeps Dileep inside the family zone, and he shines like nobody else, as Harishree Ashokan gives him great support. The newcomer Parvathy Nambiar is just somewhat good, as she just survives her stay there on most of the occasions, unlike some other debutante heroines who have been introduced in his earlier movies. May be the character itself wasn’t her kind or vice versa, as there is a constant struggle to keep up with the other performers. Murali Gopy is good with his role even as the character turns strange by the end. Rima Kallingal holds the ground, and keeps the wounds of the movie from getting any deeper. This is not a performance that will get her anything, but she is there to make sure that nothing gets any worse. Tini Tom has done a role which is not that funny, and has made it work. While Vijayaraghavan and Sreejith Ravi have gone towards the comic side in their smaller presence, Suraj Venjaramoodu has an even smaller existence which he makes significant.

Soul exploration :: The movie lacks in soul or appears to be so. Even as it should go in the list of those feel-good movies, one can’t be sure about it yet. If anyone embodies the spirit of the movie, it is Dileep, and if anything is close enough to feeling good, that should be when he is around. The movie’s abundance of good characters or those being just naughty and not that evil seems to direct towards the goodness of the movie and its attempt to take over that feel-good tag. The movie is indeed good in what it depicts, and it distancing itself from using bad words and vulgar jokes is indeed a good sign for the soul. Even our heroine comes up with a cute angelic smile for the soul on regular occasions, and that seems to be her highlight (it reminds me of my favourite Alice in Wonderland character, you know who – and I love it). There is also that song which features her that jumps out of nowhere. That smile is one boost to the soul that the Vampire Bat might want to collect personally. This is my last movie of the year, and therefore there is not much more to explore in the soul, as there is that complete break from movies until the 31st of this year – my total movies list for those watched in theatres is 103 with 52 in the first half and 51 in the second.

How it finishes :: This is a movie which could have worked with a better second half – not by a big margin, but just enough to attract more people. It still has a good amount of viewers there, as long as there is no comparison made against a few others movies in the theatre during this same season. There are not many challenges made by movies this weekend either. Sound Thoma and Sringaravelan might have scored big for Dileep at the box-office, but this one is still the best movie of him this year and the worst for Lal Jose since Mulla five years ago. The best and the worst have been made with this combination and that is indeed strange considering the expectations that shoot up. Ezhu Sundara Raathrikal will surely keep itself running into 2014, and that is something which is ensured more by the vacations causing lot of incoming audience in the form of kids and youth rather than the movie getting better opinions. Well, let this winter season of happiness disappoint no movie maker – let them all run, as even Dhoom 3 is having a magic run of the evil type.

Release date: 19th December 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Dileep, Rima Kallingal, Murali Gopy, Tini Tom, Parvathy Nambiar, Harishree Ashokan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Vijayaraghavan, Sreejith Ravi, Sekhar Menon, Praveena, Suja Menon, Krishna Prabha, Ambika Mohan

ezhusundararathrikal copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Drishyam

drishyam!

The vision right here :: Translated as “The Sight” or may be as “The Visual”, and produced by Antony Perumbavoor under Aashirvad Cinemas, Drishyam is that movie which gave me big trouble in writing the title in English; whether it was Dryshyam, Dhryshyam or Dhrysyam with a lot of variations replacing one “y” or the other with “i” or both with “i”. But about the decision to watch the movie, there was absolutely no doubt. This movie released on a Thursday, a day before the flow of the weekend movies started, and had already come up with good reviews from both the critics and the audience. There was absolutely no reason why I wouldn’t watch this movie, as there were so many people asking about why I haven’t watched this movie, and I decided to book a the tickets, and there was never a better decision in the recent times, as the tickets for the movie was sold out everywhere in a flash, and much faster than Dhoom 3 – its trailer had said that the year would end with a “dhoom”, and now we know that they were talking about Drishyam, and not on some weird movie with strange characters doing stupid things on motor-bikes.

What is it about? :: Georgekutty (Mohanlal) is an orphan who has studied only till standard four, and Rani (Meena) is his wife, a simple woman who failed in standard ten. They have two daughters, Anju (Ansiba) and Anu (Esther Anil) and are leading a happy life in a village background. Georgekutty is a simple farmer who runs the business of a cable television business named after his wife along with being a farmer; he is loved by most of the people of the village has the image of a nice, innocent man. Still, he doesn’t back away from having opinions about most of the things of the world, which makes him the enemy of Sahadevan (Kalabhavan Shajon), a local cop. But as a simple incident changes their life, they are forced to prepare for the worst, and save their family together, as the common man who lags in education decides to take on the law which comes after them. Will they succeed in their mission or will the family break apart due to the power of external force lead by the Inspector General herself? Anything more said about the movie is rather giving away too much, and the rest is to be seen.

The defence of Drishyam :: Here is another thriller on the cards, after having Mumbai Police and Memories this year gaining critical acclaim as well good box-office collections. The thriller genre is indeed gaining the support of the audience, and even Up and Down: Mukalil Oralundu and Silence had enough of the average stuff inside them. Memories might still be the best investigative thriller this year for every one, as long as this one categorizes under a family thriller. The movie’s first half is a full family drama with light shades until the one major incident that happens just before the end of the half, taking the tension into the space after interval. There is the simple life of ordinary people close to nature portrayed throughout, something which is of goodness and dedication. The second half brings the thrilling twist to the world as the darker shade creeps in under the disguise of law. There is so much brilliance and beauty in the way the story is told, especially in the second half. There is the mixing of the right features that make this one a movie for more than one kind of person.

Positives and negatives :: We are indeed caught in that world of uncertainty which no real assurance of what is to happen next, as an illiterate village guy takes on the educated smart people, but still there might be a little dragging in the first half, and it is just after the interval that the movie actually takes off as it is. The songs are just ordinary, but the performances are top class. The first half does have some ineffective jokes, and there is too much coming from a man who learns how to beat the police with the help of movies. You can actually come up with the need for disbelief, but considering the world that we love in, nothing is impossible, and as the demonic Overlord would say, evil always finds a way. Power and influence always got the upper-hand, and when the common man fights for his family and his world, it is always something that inspires millions. As George Orwell will give us through his Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. That should be another reference to the 2009 movie Ividam Swargamanu, which itself is mentioned in this movie as our hero goes to work on his land. Let’s add that this one is more emotionally touching and less complicated than that one.

Performers of the soul :: There are many directors who might have the best records for many, but for Jeethu Joseph, it is a perfect record when I look at it, with the most interesting thriller of a decade Detective, the best family drama of its age Mummy & Me, the funniest movie of last year My Boss and the best investigative thriller of this year, Memories – there is his perfect record, none of the movies deserves below 80/100 in my opinion. Even with the lesser number of movies, he is already among the best, no doubt about that. Mohanlal is back with a role where he perfectly fits in, reminding us of his performance in Ividam Swargamanu, or rather a role which is even more worthy of being loved – once again the farmer who fights for his small world. There is no longer a hero who transforms into a superhero who beats up the opponents, and he excels as the common man. It is good to see Meena back opposite Mohanlal after Chandrolsavam (2007) and the performance of Kalabhavan Shajon in a negative role is worth mentioning. Asha Sharath also remains strong throughout her presence. Meanwhile, the kids are just brilliant, and they are strong pillars of this movie – I hope that they will stay for long.

Soul exploration :: In its soul, Drishyam is more or less Ividam Swargamanu, even if not so in the presentation as well as the genre. The two characters instantly likable, and we are on their side right from the beginning to the end. Here Mohanlal plays Georgekutty who fights the law for his family in the place of Mathews who fights the law for his land. Both are quite innocent characters who are looking to save their respective worlds. Both movies have the protagonists who are not that educated common men who are on the back-foot most of the time. But this movie has the whole thing more under the control of the protagonist, and the external help he receives is much less. There is no law being used in the favour of him, but there is surely the appropriate use of media. Georgekutty is better planned, all by himself throughout the movie, and even as he suffers more, right from the beginning to the end, everything has been under his control. There is no real corruption in this movie, but there is just power and influence which troubles the common man. The end is indeed a very good, and not without the twist that was needed.

How it finishes :: Drishyam is indeed the winner of the weekend and the movie of Christmas. The movie is in many ways the triumph of goodness when placed against all kinds of problems. There is always evil and sin which often takes many forms and can sometimes rise above the law, and all that decisions belong to the fine thread that fate has woven for each man and woman unless Grimm Reaper decides to cut that thread with his scythe. But the movie ends up as the victory of the common man in his ability to do the right thing. The movie also asserts that there is nothing like family. The real immediate world is family, and without love and mutual co-operation, there is no such world in reality. We do not live for the moment or anything, as we live for the world, which is family – and most of us might have troubles with our blood, but none of them can stand the power of time, and problems and our struggles bring us together. It is never too late to find our little world as well as our role in it. Drishyam is the visualization of the struggle of a common man for the family, and there is brilliance in store.

Release date: 19th December 2013
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Kalabhavan Shajon, Siddique, Asha Sharath, Ansiba, Esther Anil, Roshan Basheer, Koottickal Jayachandran, Neeraj Madhav, Irshad, Kunchan, Antony Perumbavoor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Indian Pranaya Katha

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An Indian Love Story :: Now, that is the direct Malayalam to English translation of the title of this movie, but let it not make you think about this as a romantic love story full of melodious songs and a hero and heroine looking at each other, the sky, the beach, or the river. This is partially a political satire and otherwise a drama concerning family relations. Coming from the director who never disappoints us (except for may be No. 1 Snehatheeram Banglore North), as the man with such a fine record, this movie was always going to be watchable whatever be the content, and even as it turned out to be kind of usual, this movie also doesn’t disappoint (yes, I do think well of his last venture Puthiya Theerangal too). His best of this century was Manassinakkare, and before that we know it has always been NadodikkattuOru Indian Pranaya Katha fits among the good movies, not at the higher level though. But be assured that the love between the lead pair happens just because the movie ends, and that is where the romance should begin.

What is it about? :: Ayamanam Sidharthan (Fahad Fazil) is the leader of the local youth wing of a party who hopes to become an M.L.A. soon by being the candidate in the upcoming by-election. He is supported by Uthup Vallikkadan (Innocent) who is the district head of the party always making an attempt to show his face on television. But his hopes are crashed when the national leaders choose another person who has no political background to contest in the elections instead of him, just because she is the daughter of a big shot politician. As Sidharthan is fed up and decides to take a break, he comes across Irene Gardner (Amala Paul) from Canada who is attempting to shoot a documentary and needs someone to help her, for which she can provide rupees two thousand per day. He feels that this could be a nice opportunity for him to keep away from politics as well as gain some much needed money, and he takes that offer. But he realizes that there is something about her that is much more than what meets the eye. So why is Irene in India and what is she looking for, and how can our hero help her? There remain the questions.

The defence of Oru Indian Pranaya Katha :: The movie has a wonderful first half, and it is a gem that shines and takes all the claps with grace. There are lots of moments of fun, and in each of them, Fahadh Faasil scores, and Innocent provides good support. There is the humble and yet beautiful beginning to the story which is carried on towards the interval. The moment when the hero takes up the job for the heroine is hilarious, and most of the moments involving politics are times of laughter. It remains clean throughout the movie, and there are no unnecessary vulgar jokes which has been plaguing Malayalam movie industry and keeping the audience away. There is basically nothing which is bad for kids, and there is no stupid romance getting in the way of the movie flow. There was obviously the chance for bad jokes on many occasions, and at a time when even movies like Sringaravelan become family entertainers, this effort to keep the dirty things away has to be appreciated. To add to it, the goodness and social message that the movie delivers is worth some applause.

Claws of flaw :: The movie fails to keep the momentum going in the second half, and right after the first half, the world starts twisting and breaking apart. Even as the latter half also has some good jokes, it seems to suffer from a big curse which hinders its movement, and it drags and gets converted into a family drama from the political satire which it was in the first half. There is lot of emotional undercurrents going on, and none of them romantic in character. The leading lady’s search for her roots lacks in both strength and innovation and the flashback story is too much off the dusty old books. The songs stay below average, and there is nothing that can pounce in our hearts. There is a void left in our desire to follow the satirical side, and our need for things which are left behind can be felt by the end of the movie. It has a happy and a righteous ending for sure, but surely not an effective one. The people who are looking for the romantic side will be disappointed, as the love between the leading characters blossoms only in the last few moments of the movie, or rather the last few seconds before the movie ends.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Sathyan Anthikkad’s style rescues another movie yet again. But Fahadh Faasil is the man who leads the show yet again, just like he did in North 24 Kaatham without even speaking much, and in Amen with simplicity. He has portrayed a different character yet again, and his comic side in this movie is something that takes over. He once again transforms to a character who rules the first half of the movie and stays good in the second half. Innocent’s support is as good as usual, and there is no boring moment when he is around. Amala Paul looks even better than ever in this movie, and it is good to see that her presence is there right from the moment she is introduced. Her character seems to have been rightly portrayed, right from the moment she appears with a video camera in an orphanage. Her characteristics of a lady searching roots as well as a fun loving girl are rightly captured and reflected to the audience. Shafna and Lakshmi Gopalaswamy are also there with significant roles which catches attention, but the latter could have had more screen time.

Soul exploration :: The movie does leave us with many messages, one of them being the core of them all, not to take politics as a job, but as a means to serve people along with working. The real ambition is to be serving people rather than to be at the top, but that will rather be a need. Well, ambition is the root of all evil, and as Doctor Faustus did prove long ago as in the lives of Lucifer and Mephistopheles, there is nothing like ambition that makes a man evil. The leading characters do undergo significant changes in their journey, but not something as huge as North 24 Kaatham, as they were both this good right from the beginning to the end. Even as a movie which is considered as a romantic comedy, there is no glorification of romance or similar stuff, and that is another bonus. The useless nature of exaggerated love is made known to us throughout the movie, and the stress is more on family values, along with helping others at the same time. The movie also stresses on the importance of roots and the need to know them thoroughly. Whatever be the situation, or however the world changes, there is nothing like our parents, as the movie shows.

How it finishes :: When the hero says “There is beef in the scene” – that was a hilarious moment, and so was the dialogues in the library – the movie drops such laughter bombs regularly to keep the movie in the hunt in a weekend powered by two other big releases, Jeethu Joseph’s Mohanlal starrer Dryshyam and Lal Jose’s Dileep starrer Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal along with the Bollywood’s own Dhoom 3 and Hollywood’s only release Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. There is also the Tamil movie Biriyani, which means that there is a lot going on in the theatres this weekend – I have already booked tickets for Dryshyam, and I am looking forward to watching Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal on the same day. There is a lot to be done for me this Christmas, that is for sure, and as far as Oru Indian Pranaya Katha is concerned, it is a good choice for a family outing, and there is not much rush for it due to the less hype – you can go for it soon enough. Forgive the movie for its weaknesses in the second half, and do give it a chance to be that love story that scores without that much of romance. This is a small movie of goodness, that can do with a lot of support from the audience.

Release date: 20th December 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Amala Paul, Innocent, Shafna, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Krishna Prabha, Muthumani

oruindianpranayakatha copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madagascar III

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The Madagascar glory :: It all started in 2005 as the tale of New York’s four zoo animals, Alex the Lion a.k.a the King of New York, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo begins with them landing on the island of Madagascar by accident after leading a happy and satisfied life in their own little worlds. It is my favourite movie of the series, and is one of the best beginnings to any series. Despite scoring better in the box-office, I would say that Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath is the weak link among the movies so far, and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a definite improvement on the same. The series would become the twenty first highest grossing movie franchise of all time. I would not expect it to go any higher in the list though, as the animated movie series will have only limited scope from the way the movie has ended in the third, but the flick is still not without its options of coming up with more sequels and scoring nice at the box-office. Thus remains the power of what was created by the three movies of the series so far.

What is it about? :: The team of four still needs to get to New York City, as they decide to go to Monte Carlo to get the help of penguins and the chimps. But as they are noticed and it creates chaos in the land, Captain Chantel DuBois is called to deal with the situation as she begins a never ending chase of the animals with her minions, hoping to keep the lion’s head on her wall in the process. They find shelter in a cricus train, as they disguise themself as American circus animals, much to the delight of Stefano the sea lion and Gia the jaguar who takes them in, despite the suspicions of Vitaly the tiger. It is later found out that the circus indeed a failure, even as they are trying to get a contract to perform in the United States of America. The penguins help by buying the circus and getting rid of the humans, while Alex tries to get the circus back working with new ideas and the help of his friends. The friends find it the best option to get back to New York, and they tries their best to make the show better, even getting a depressed Vitaly back in action in the process, and at the same time, Alex and Gia gets closer to each other. So what comes next?

The defence of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted :: This movie is a fun ride, and not many people can disagree to the same. It portrays a wonderful brotherhood of animals which puts the divided humans into shame, and the evil side comes from humans who mercilessly hunt the poor creatures for sport. There lies a twin message against hunting for sport as well as in support of universal brotherhood. As long as people are lead by their narrow-minded selfishness which calls for money only, there will be no brotherhood – but that is not the case of the animal kingdom of Madagascar. It shows a group of talking animals who are divided by species, but still stands together, may be because they don’t have politicians to bring a wall between them or reservations which make sure that they won’t have food or water from a specific area. I would consider this movie a battle against hunting for fun, inequality and filthy reservations while supporting brotherhood and freedom, about which there might be a lot to say, but much less can be directly implied. Just think about us humans having to learn from animals during this age.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has great 3D effects and it feels great to see it on the big screen. Its use of colours and style is beyond the limits of the usual 3D movie. It is still good to watch the final scenes of it on an LED screen with all the lights switched off. There is the great animation and the wonderful details of the cities which our heroes visit. It makes us feel for the animals and keeps us on their side, in a much better way than what Avatar creates in us for the weird blue aliens. Madagascar 3 undoubtedly knows where its going, and how to keep the things straight on the way. Yes, it chooses a dream-like world instead of realism, as its characters chooses to fall and get up rather than not to fall, dance instead of walk, and learn to understand rather than directly understand. It is still a world where greatness can be achieved by trying and being good, rather than using the world’s method of “lie, cheat, steal” which has been going on with most of the so called respectable people who are holding big positions, and undoubtedly making a lot of money. Madagascar gives a hope that one day people will be judged for being good rather than belonging to a community or being more or less social.

The Fantastic Four :: We have four animal heroes in the series, with a lion, a zebra, a giraffe and a hippopotamus on an adventure of the life-time. They lived a life of incredible joy in a zoo in New York until they end up outside, travelling to Madagascar, an incident which changes their lives forever, as they discovers themselves, and what they are meant to be. From Madagascar, they go African continent where they find more of themselves, and then also goes through Europe which forms the major part of this third movie. Talking about fantastic four or fabulous four always have the tendency to bring four cricketers who all retired in the last few years, but as we are talking about an adventure bigger than any money-making sport which goes on to become more corrupt to the core every year, we realize that the animals always had more to teach us compared to any materialistic celebrity of this age who are worshiped for absolutely no reason. Yes, these animals are worth being fans of, and they don’t even come up with nonsense, and they are inspirational and more humane than any of the people who are considered as role-models by the new generation.

Soul exploration :: From Trapeze Americano to Balloons for Children, the animals show that tremendous power of equality, liberty and fraternity which was lost from the French Revolution, or rather was never there. “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” has gone to the animals for sure, as we haven’t gone past the narrow boundaries of religion and caste yet, and so proved by caste and religion based politics and the reservations which shall continue to divide people in a more efficient manner for vote-bank politics. The world has been divided by imagined communities, and within nations, people remain divided, but not these animals. We can see that they don’t belong to the same species, and most of them are actually supposed to kill and eat each other. May be we don’t deserve to be united, and we should support all the barriers that Rabindranath Tagore mentioned as narrow domestic walls. Madagascar 3 might have talking animals with no logic, but somehow they make more sense than humans do, and it is evident from the way the humans behave in the movie itself.

How it finishes :: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is longer than Ice Age 4: Continental Drift by just five minutes, and there is not much to separate the two despite the fact that this is indeed better and more critically appreciated. Ice Age scored in the total box-office collection better though, and it was expected that it would go on to become the highest grossing movie of 2012 as it did, and considering the hype surrounding both movie here, I would have been surprised if Madagascar 3 had actually made anything close enough to Ice Age 4. But I am glad that it did come close, and being released before its rival might have helped it to come close enough. In an year in which even The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 comes in the top ten, being there is more of a disgrace, but when that tells the story of the movie-watchers, being there is also something of luck too. But leaving the statistics behind, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a very good watch, not only for the fans of animated movies, but also for anyone who is looking for a movie which is a visual delight in one way while being something of incredible substance in another way. Thank you HBO for bringing this back on television at the right moment.

Release date: 8th June 2012
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath
Starring (voice): Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Frances McDormand

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Thattathin Marayathu

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The case of love :: The stories of love has been exaggerated for centuries, and we are not strangers to how William Shakespeare described a lot of things in his Sonnets. The better qualities which are needed for this world including brotherly and sisterly love or the love for the down-trodden or the subaltern would always have to make way for a kind of love which is based on the outside beauty and powerfully fixed on infatuation and lust. Then they can ask “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” but does all the immortalizing of such love make any sense? How someone can fall in love for another just by looking at his or her is one of the weirdest things in the world. That is undoubtedly a case of infatuation and lust, however one tries to support the theory of love at first sight. But it is such a story that we are going to talk about, and it is the same thing that this movie is about, and as this turned out to be a good movie even without the “truth of love” in it, this case of love is to be left to the audience who made this one a hit, and as a film, it deserved it.

Love in the South :: Malayalam movies have had that incredible strength to come up with successful love stories which stay on our minds for long. One of the earliest movies of that kind after the early age of the legendary Chemmeen should be Nakhashathangal, but the trend came back stronger than ever with two movies Aniyathipraavu and Niram, both starring Kunchako Boban and Shalini who established themselves as the perfect star pair for love stories. The specialty of these two movies was that there was so much goodness in them, and on both occasions, the pair chooses not to disobey their parents, and such sacrifice should be at the base of love, and not carnal desire. But about the pathetic nonsense which came as pseudo-love stories, like Annayum Rasoolum, one shouldn’t bother – it was a pathetic case of looking at each other in an extended version of love at first sight moments, and that movie will do more bad than good for the romantic movies which are to follow including Oru Indian Pranayakadha. Meanwhile, Dr. Love was a superior story of love with sacrifice involved in it, just like Dhosth.

What is it about? :: This movie written and directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan as his second venture as the captain of the ship, has the story of a ordinary Hindu Nair boy falling in love with a rich Muslim girl. Vinod Nair (Nivin Pauly) has fallen for Aisha Rahman (Isha Talwar) with an incredible moment of falling in love as he hits her while running and she falls down the stairs to land in a hospital. Supported Abdu (Aju Varghese), Hamsa (Bhagath Manuel) and Mustafa (Ahmed Siddhique), he goes on a mission to win her love despite the problems caused due to religion and social status, and that fact that he belongs to the party which is fighting against her family’s business. After doing some strange and stupid things, he finally gets a chance to talk to the girl, and soon he tells her about his love to get a positive response. His supporters grow, as S.I. Prem Kumar (Manoj K. Jayan) helps further in his cause as he leaves his house. So, will this love story succeed, or does it have to become another Romeo and Juliet? Almost everyone in Kerala knows the answer.

The defence of Thattathin Marayathu :: The movie has everything which is needed for a perfect love story of exaggerated character. It is also the best love story in Malayalam since Niram, with all the possible additions of the age, including the witty dialogues, “when she replied, I felt like Sreesanth who got the wicket of Andrew Symonds” or “why should boys of Kerala need six-pack?”, and another one “you can think before making decision about my love and tell me that you do love me”. Despite the popular thoughts about this being a powerful love story, I would say that this movie is never serious – it is incredibly light and always on the humorous side; even when it tries to get serious, there is that feeling of “all’s well that ends well”, and as there is no real dark shade to the movie, this is a perfect love story which is nothing less than a fairy tale, and if we think that way, the movie is the perfection of exaggerated love, rightly presented on screen, and therefore flawless in its core.

Claws of flaw :: Despite having the best songs of the year and the great cinematography and direction, the movie is nowhere near perfection in a natural world. It clearly lacks logic and fails to make sense on multiple occasions, a flaw which can be forgiven just because of the reason for its existence. It follows the old style tradition of a boy from one religion marrying a girl of another faith, and to add to it, here one is poor and the other is rich, another stereotype explored. The boy feels the usual love at first sight for the girl and starts dreaming about her as if his life depended on her. He forgets his duties and even his parents and becomes the stupid guy, while the girl remains just the opposite, not breaking traditions or disrespecting her parents or relatives. The exchange letters through a messenger, sings songs in dreamy sequences, and hopes for being together. In that case, the movie has nothing new or innovative in its base. it is not intense, and it has no real villain except for one man who just objects to the marriage.

Thattathin Marayathu and love :: The world of the movie is strange, as the hero sells helmets after making police catch people for not wearing a helmet, and with the cash he earns, he begins a pardah shop – and that is an act of love. This movie’s definition of love is being infatuated by a random girl at a random place just because she is good-looking. Is this love or some strange feeling which has been created a girl in veil, and without that what would be she to him? Well, who cares about what should have got all the attention, as she might have been a horrible creature in soul, but the only thing that matters in this love is that she is beautiful and has a fair complexion. Thattathin Marayathu is never a story of true love, and most of the people might agree, but it is unrealistic love of exaggerated love, presented in a beautiful manner. Well, the real life can never be this simple as a whole, and it is also not this complicated in many other things that they show. Well, as long as the new bottle where you put the old wine is pretty good, how can one complain? The leaks are there, but there are provisions to make sure that the wine don’t get lost on the ground.

How it finishes :: In this visually awesome movie, another thing that catches our attention is the performance of Aju Varghese as he has done a perfect comic supporting stand there. Manoj K. Jayan and Bhagath Manuel are also nice support. Nivin Pauly comes up with a side which wasn’t there to be expected from him, and establishes himself as the romantic hero of this age. But as far as Isha Talwar is concerned, her character is a real disappointment, not talking much or doing much even as she has the most righteous character in the whole movie. The result is that he has created more of a statue image, which affected her in the movie I Love Me. She will always be remembered as a beautiful sculpture rather than a character, and the fact that she was perfect for the role doesn’t come as a positive. The movie has successfully presented its world with the support of most of its cast, and as the image it shows is of innocence and goodness even as it is covered is stupid love of exaggerated nature. It is a magnet, and it will attract viewers even after being shown on television multiple times unlike dark creatures of pathetic romance like Annayum Rasoolum.

Release date: 6th July 2012
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Isha Talwar, Aju Varghese, Bhagath Manuel, Aparna Nair, Manoj K. Jayan, Sreenivasan, Sunny Wayne, Niveda Thomas, Ahmed Sidhique, Manikuttan, Sreeram Ramachandran

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Ice Age IV

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The Ice Age glory :: The Ice Age is that movie series which made me interested in animated movies, after an age which had only the action and horror movies. Its significance can’t be lessened by the fact that I would have started liking them with Kung-fu Panda or Finding Nemo and I would have reached its zenith with Megamind, and I have liked all the three movies, especially Ice Age: The Meltdown, even though I have to say that Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs had the best moments in the series. The first movie might be the one which I liked a little less, as the team wasn’t established and the better characters were yet to come, having that origin story problem. As far as the foreign revenue of the franchise is concerned, it has been on the increase – this fourth movie is the first time an Ice Age movie has been released here in a theatre, that too in a multiplex. The talking pre-historic creatures have never ceased to interest the viewers. Ice Age: Continental Drift, the first not to be directed by Carlos Saldanha would go on to become the highest grossing animated movie of 2012 and the second highest grossing Ice Age movie in total collection.

On Ice Age: Continental Drift :: The director has changed, but we will see more from him with Rio 2, and I have got a feeling that it is going to be awesome. The Rio franchise might be the one with more life than this, considering the continental drift has already occurred. Another movie in the Ice Age series might still occur, but how far they can go with this is a question worth asking. They have got the mammoth married and now has kid, and by the end of this movie, the sabretoothed tiger also has his love, so the story is moving through a path which needs more material. There is so much the predictable side working throughout this one, but they have hidden it well. Ice Age: Continental Drift is no different, but it has managed to keep high standards in what it showed on the screen. It has successfully managed to stay above its immediate challenger Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted as well as its unworthy challenger Brave as well as the non-challenge which was Hotel Transylvania to finish as the fifth highest grossing movie and the best grossing animated movie of the year.

What is it about? :: Manny (Ray Romano) and Ellie (Queen Latifah) faces problems as their unruly teenage daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) is going through social crisis. She seems to have inherited the stupidity of Sid (John Leguizamo), and has a crush on a mammoth named Ethan (Drake) despite the warnings of her molehog friend Louis (Josh Gad). Meanwhile Sid’s family abandons Granny (Wanda Sykes) with him. Manny gets separated from the herd along with Sid, Granny and Diego (Denis Leary), thanks to the effects of having an ungrateful and worthless kid like Peaches who even degrades her own friend, or rather her only friend. Meanwhile the continental drift is occurring, and Ellie, Louis, Peaches, Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck) have to make it to safe lands while our heroic team is caught floating towards nowhere until caught by pirates led by a gigantopithecus, Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage) who owns a giant floating iceberg which he calls his ship, from where they manage to escape. His crew includes Shira (Jennifer Lopez), a sabretoothed tigress whom Diego shall fall in love with. Chased by pirates and the continental drift, the question remains if Manny can get to his family and Diego can attain his true love.

The defence of Ice Age: Continental Drift :: The Ice Age movies are mostly easy to defend, more than any other animated movie, even as most of them can also come up against simple defence. This is another simple movie from the franchise, with the same characters, Manny, Sid and Diego going on another adventure (a forced one) joined by Granny only to later combine forces with the new-found member Shira. Ellie, Eddie and Crash are not part of the adventure this time, and it is surely for the good. To add to it, there is also Scrat, the squirrel who has his own adventures which is somehow indirectly connected to the lives of each and every creatures of that age. It is going to be very interesting for the kids, no doubt – its innovations and the use of the pre-historic setting will also interest the older ones. This movie lives up to the 3D added to the end of its name too, as it has its pre-historic creatures of awesomeness coming towards you from the screen along with some of other stuff which are not alive. They have indeed tried their best to put something nice and things of good standard into this movie which is part of a franchise that deserves attention.

Pre-historic positives and negatives :: Well, this isn’t the most creative and innovative movie of the series, and it follows the path of its predecessors, with another adventure which happens due to a dumb squirrel and an equally dumb teenage elephant. These characters are too familiar, and so the whole thing had to work perfectly, with the favourite characters on screen. The most loved character would be Sid’s grandma though, as Granny brings more fun than anybody else. The new creatures are well selected for their roles, and as they are close enough to their real pre-historic world in the first look, there won’t be any questions asked. Still, asking questions in a movie like this might be a little too cruel. We know what kind of audience it makes really happy, and as long as it has a lot for the rest of the viewers too, there is not much chance for complaints. At the end of the day, Ice Age will be Ice Age, and most of us will be fans of the series. If taken in the way it is to be taken, this one is a worthy world of snow and ice, next only to a few.

Soul exploration :: The movie tries too much to venture into the world of teenage problems of the new generation which doesn’t give a damn about the opinions of the parents. It is a theme which has been eaten to the core by many other movies without pre-historic creatures, but just this time, it is rather cute, and in the end, we love them all and no harm is done – they all had a great adventure and has returned with no bones broken or teeth fallen. Everybody is happy and feeling good. The end moment of Scrat is also worth a mention when he is told “rise above this base desire; be more than a rodent”, to which he answers by going for his most basic desire which deprives him of everything – he takes out the oak nut which lets the water in and sinks the island full of nuts and lands him in the Death Valley desert. Scrat has always been the symbol of the materialistic man, and here they have taken it to another level as he destroys his Garden of Eden and falls from the paradise. It is not direct, but it is a lesson for the present society after money, just like Peaches is a symbol of anti-family new generation which can end up losing them all.

How it finishes :: I was just wandering through the Hollywood movie channels until stopping at Star Movies the day before yesterday when this movie was showing. It is good to watch the movies you watched on the big screen on the television for a change. But Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is indeed better than this one in many ways despite the box-office results. I would also say that Rise of the Guardians is a much better animated movie of the year compared to this one. But which movie is more enjoyable could be rather left to the people, even as I have already recommended Rise of the Guardians as the animated movie of the year 2012, just like I felt that Frozen is the best animated film of 2013. Ice Age 4 is indeed a success, but it doesn’t come as an improvement to its predecessor. Its fun is still so undeniable that most of us would love to have it. As they say in the movie, “the spifeful ones live the longest”, we can hope that this franchise doesn’t go down in quality, as there surely are some signs around.

Release date: 13th July 2012
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Starring (voice): Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Nicki Minaj, Keke Palmer, Drake, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Chris Wedge, Seann William Scott, Josh Peck, Aziz Ansari, Nick Frost, Heather Morris, Alain Chabat, Joy Behar, Ester Dean, Rebel Wilson, Kunal Nayyar, Alan Tudyk

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The Grey

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* Just a reminder about my Facebook page 😀 (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Movies-of-the-Soul/378583758873946)

On The Grey :: This is a relatively unknown thriller movie starring Liam Neeson in a human battle against nature and its creatures. The movie can be further remembered for the poem which is recited in the movie: “Once more into the fray Into the last good fight I’ll ever know Live and die on this day Live and die on this day”. These are very strong lines according to the situation, and written by Joe Carnahan the director of the movie, this poem is more suitable to the age of civilization rather than that of world in the middle of nowhere. It is more of a man against nature stuff for sure, but on another level, we can see a survivor horror of another kind, this one being a thriller which involves man fighting against forces which are stronger and smarter than the average zombie in the survival horror movies. It is also an action-adventure movie where a group of men, especially one man is brought down into a world of chaos just as he thought he would be back to civilization. Yes, where there is no order or civilization, there is to be chaos, and the ultimate result is mostly death.

What is it about? :: John Ottway (Liam Neeson) is the hero of the story, who works in Alaska. He is an efficient shooter whose job is to kill gray wolves which regularly threaten an oil drilling camp. He has visions of his wife and lives with a desire to kill himself, something which he just cannot accomplish. He is kind of a loner, and does what he is supposed to. But all these have to change as their plane crash on a return trip home. The survivors of the plane crash is lead by John, but not everyone agrees to his leadership. Soon they find that they are in the territory of a gray wolf pack, and as long as they don’t get out of there, the creatures shall hunt them. As one of them (Ben Bray) is killed by the wolves at night, they decide that they have to keep moving, and it would be better for them to be away from the crash site as much as possible. With no idea of which way to go towards civilization, or at least away from the wolf territory, all of them have to depend on their own instincts to survive in the extreme climate. Are they into the last good fight they will ever know? Only time will tell.

The defence of The Grey :: You might know that having Liam Neeson there is the biggest and the best thing for this movie. Let me tell you that this movie is not about wolves, and therefore lets not think about how they are acting in this one – for this movie is about courage and the humanity’s everlasting desire for survival. You already know that man can be destroyed, but can’t be defeated. It doesn’t matter how weak you are, it is the circumstance that makes you stand up and be tough. It has a powerful and yet never exaggerated depiction of a world which is cent percent against human existence, and ruthless instincts for survivals are asked for. Yes, people live and day on a day, and we are pushed into battles, sometimes you know that it is your last chance, and it is not an option to win. The Grey has beautifully captured all these scene by scene, with the acts and dialogues of the characters as well as the presence of snow and the wolves. The Grey is that thrilling movie which has nothing supernatural or extra-terrestrial and yet gives the feeling of something out of this world, and this success of the movie is a good sign for future.

Positives and Negatives :: There was a big chance that this movie was going to be set aside as just another movie which uses has a group of people trying to survive the snow and the wolves along with using Liam Neeson’s star value in attracting attention. But no, not with The Grey. It reminds us that movie is a craft and the director is the craftsman, and provided with someone of great caliber to support it from the inside, this is more than enough for making a fantastic movie. The first instinct of all of us might be to brand this movie as an action movie with Liam Neeson beating up wolves – partially right, and this one is also an adventure – there too somewhat right; but about all, this is a survival thriller, which keeps not only the wolves, but also ourselves in the hunt. There are no death-defying action – that should disappoint a few, and Liam Neeson is not right out of Taken or The A-Team, believe it. Instead, we have people who walk in the snow covered valley of shadow of death, with different beliefs, but hope for survival all the same. The movie’s snow world and repetitions might trouble a few, and it does have an unclear end and some drops of depression and pessimism at times.

Performers of the soul :: Liam Neeson activates the movie, runs the movie and ends it in style. The same director and actor comes together once again after The A-Team and unlike the strange modern world that our actor explored in the form of the thrillers Unknown and Taken, this one takes the viewers right back to an age where the animals and nature had the upper-hand. My favourite movie of his shall always be Schindler’s List, and I do feel that everyone would agree. His presence in Les Miserables would comes second best, in a role which involves selflessly saving the innocents yet again. I would say that his performance in The Grey stands next, as he plays a man who is himself a hunter, and becomes as much a predator as the wolf by the end. There are those moments of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins that comes to the mind when this man who had made a great villain comes to the scene once again never to give up. Our character doesn’t lose hope, and neither does he loses his courage, and Liam Neeson makes sure that the character is awesome. I am looking forward to his A Walk Among the Tombstones, as it sounds interesting, and there is also the movie with an earlier release date – Non-Stop.

Soul exploration :: The wolves are more of the symbol of what attacks us in the real life, taking the individuality out of us, making us afraid and act like what we are expected to be. The nature has its fury and so do the wolves, but in our civilized world, we suffer from the same attacks, not just physical, but also of intellectual and spiritual nature, as we are forced to give away our beliefs due to many reasons – the wolves can be a lot of things, as our right to believe in something or the right to be someone is taken away. Yes, the future dystopia will be based on materialism alone, as art, literature and religion will be taken away. We already know how much the courses on arts are suffering and how the current society has taken away imagination in favour of logic. They have marked their territory, and wolves continues to take many new forms, and the support that most of them receives continues to increase. Obviously most of the society consider us students of arts as worthless, and they kill us like these wolves, with their teeth and claws supported by the climate which favours them. They try to make us believe that we have studied an inferior course – do survive, like Liam Neeson, for we struggle more than anyone else, caught between the community reservations after which we General category people get none.

How it finishes :: How well The Grey is taken, goes beyond comparisons. It doesn’t have that much inside it if you just watch it and leave it, and it will be basically a man – wolf battle against all odds. The wolf is often more than just a creature, and when the nemesis is also a philosophy, there comes the epic struggle. Beautifully shot with its visuals and sounds which produces depression as well as intensity, the movie will be a treat for most, and might not gather the attention of a few others. Liam Neeson is the catalyst that this movie needed, and anyone else would have not worked the movie in the same movie. The Grey is more of what the title suggests, it is more grey than anything else, with no black or white, just the struggle for survival as the humans face the sure mortality when they least expect it, and that too of a horrible kind. By the end, there is death, and still there is the courage to take the fight to the wolves as there is that last battle, to live and die rather than to live or die – for to live or to die is not an option, as people live and die and some part of us can always be dead and buried, even with immortality continued to be given that significance that it deserves.

Release date: 27th January 2012
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale, Jacob Blair, Ben Bray, Anne Openshaw

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The Hobbit II

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On The Hobbit :: In the first installment of a three-part film prequel series based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien called An Unexpected Journey, we saw thirteen dwarves accompanied by one wizard and a hobbit, going on a mission to reclaim the dwarf lands which was earlier claimed by a fire-breathing dragon, Smaug. It was then that our hobbit had attained possession of a ring from Gollum which will make a difference in many ways later. The film had ended with a vision of the Lonely mountain with the dragon, and the creature opening its eyes. This movie has released almost exactly an year after the first movie released, and the third movie There and Back Again will be there on December 17th, 2014. It would have been even better if Guillermo del Toro was more involved with the movie, and it was his vision that was there, but even now, this movie is incredibly strong, and one would wonder if how different this would have been if he was in charge – may be something which was so different that one has to wonder so much? Who knows?

What is it about? :: After taking refuge from the orcs at the home of a skin-changer, the team of fifteen splits up as Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) who separates from them with a promise to meet them before they reach their destination. After fighting giant spiders, they are caught by the wood-elves from where the escape hidden in empty wine barrels. Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) invisibility ring helps in both cases. Meanwhile, Gandalf fights a legion of orcs as well as an entity known as the Necromancer. They are later helped by a human bowman Bard (Luke Evans) and later receives a great send-off when the talk about the riches come into play. But the orcs are after them, and so are two elves, Legolas and Tauriel who have more obvious reasons. With Gandalf missing, the fourteen are on their own in their battle against the dragon, and the questions remain about how they would get inside the mountain, how will they get the Arkenstone which is needed to rule, and how they will slay, defeat or at least survive from the dragon if they could. Another interesting question might be about who all will survive, with a dragon, an evil necromancer and lots of orcs involved.

The defence of The Hobbit II :: Talking about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this is exactly what I had expected from this movie, and the movie has provided me with exactly what I was expecting. The fans of the book might disagree, but I haven’t read it and the whole movie remains a spectacle for me. The movie is an improvement from the previous one of the series, and it is a huge improvement as the action sequences and special effects are considered – may be I am a little prejudiced with this point as I watched the first movie on television in Sony Pix and this one in a multiplex in 3D, first day third show. But you can’t deny the strength of action sequences here, especially with the team’s barrel run chased by the orcs who are chased by the elves, and then when Legolas is involved. The dragon is also well-designed and it is an interesting character with its fire breath adding to the special effects more burning beauty. The spiders, the web and the forest remains another area which makes the whole thing interesting. One can actually take time to talk about almost every character out there, but I would rather not do the same.

Positives and Negatives :: We know the dragon is an impressive creature here, and so are all the creatures of different races, but there is one thing that doesn’t stand that good, it is the female elf Tauriel who seems to do nothing interesting other than create a bad love triangle. But we can still think that she never existed as the dwarf whom she healed was treated by other dwarves or humans. But the character is awesome in the action sequences, so may be she can be of interest in the next movie as long as the significance of that unnecessary love triangle will become less. As a character who is not in the book, I would think that she won’t be liked by the book fans. The movie is very long, but there is no dull moment in it, so just take that length negativity out of the equation. May be some people don’t like journeys like this, but obviously this was what one was supposed to expect, and the ending is quick, but better executed than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and gives people more interest in going for the third movie which is surely going to be heavily packed with action. The 3D is fine and even excellent at times, nothing spectacular considering the overall quality of the movie, but I wasn’t looking for that in this movie.

Performers of the soul :: As the movie gets into action very early unlike The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which takes an eternity, our people are also prepared. Martin Freeman steals the show, and Ian McKellen comes as the big tree which holds things together. Richard Armitage’s dwarf king gets better, and Luke Evans’ presence is something which will be strong only by fulfilling his character’s destiny in the next movie if it is indeed the fate. Orlando Bloom is the ultimate action hero of the movie, and the number of claps he received in the theatre can’t be counted. The movie needed the character from Lord of the Rings, even as I hear people say that he is not The Hobbit character. He is more an archer magician right there making most of his screen presence. Despite Evangeline Lilly’s nice portrayal of her character, it is an avoidable she-elf – otherwise she is good and excellent in the action sequences. Well, elves are crowd favourites! Aidan Turner is equally detestable for that love triangle even as one has to like the way he has performed. Lee Pace makes a fine elf king, while the other dwarves work as good as they did in the first movie. Above all, love Benedict Cumberbatch’s fire-breathing red dragon, for that one rules.

Soul exploration :: The movie deals with the courage of a hobbit yet again, as despite his weaknesses and the lack of abilities, he joins the dwarf warriors, and continues his journey here. He is more heroic than he was in the first movie and even saves the dwarves from being eaten by giant spiders as well as being eternally imprisoned in the elf prisons – he even talks to the dragon face to face, and there is the courage that he has found, along with the ring. Meanwhile, Bard has to accomplish his destiny or rather fail in it, leaving a question mark for the final movie of the series. Elves, hobbits, dwarves, goblins, orcs, trolls and humans – they have all been in the series, and except for goblins and trolls, the rest make an impact in this movie too. The human neutrality is evident, and so is the orc alignment towards pure evil. The dwarves and hobbits remain more on the good side a little more than neutral, and the elves are good in their own way. But when we look at the ideals of the three – dwarves, elves and hobbits, they are different with variable views on each other, and if given a choice, I would think that most would chose the elves, and so would I. This racial difference is an incredible thing, and I have loved this variety in creatures since playing Age of Wonders.

How it finishes :: I would sincerly hope that all who are praising the special effects and CGI of some of the worst movies of the year, to watch this one (Krrish 3 fans can look at Dhoom 3 when it releases if waiting for an opponent of equal platform). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is one of the best movies of the year and also a visual treat which entertains with its witty dialogues, incredible action sequences and a flurry of special effects. It indeed makes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey feel that it could have been a better movie. Peter Jackson has indeed created the right hobbit movie which will surely make me choose Halflings as the race the next time I play Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic – something which I had given up in favour of the Draconians and the Undead. Meanwhile, I hope you all had a great Friday the 13th. It is the favourite day (and night) of the Vampire Bat, and on this occasion, he has decided to go lenient on his ratings, but The Hobbit II actually deserves it. Still, the one year wait for the third movie is going to be so depressing!

Release date: 13th December 2013
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt

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✠The Vampire Bat.

Extracted

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What is Extracted? :: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” — John Milton, Paradise Lost. Well, the mind creates not just heaven and hell, but a lot of other things. As long as the minds are concerned, the physical existence of hell and heaven can take a heavy toll. If the mind keeps you burning, you shall feel the inferno, and if the mind is going through peace, hell is not coming down. Yes, going to paradise, inferno or purgatory in the physical manner is to be left for life after death, but for what happens on Earth, it is all about the mind. This is the same reason why two people might experience the exact same thing in different manner. Each person is unique and so is the mind in every man. Extracted takes us into the mind of one man, where there are memories which keep playing, and there is this another man who is trapped right in there with no chance for an escape. So what are his memories and how does it work? Does the man escape from that world?

What is it about? :: It follows Tom (Sasha Roiz), who invents a machine which can help a person to enter the mind of another man and read his memories, or rather walk around in it (rather like walking around the dreams of a particular person in Inception, but this being more of a scientific device which reacts to instructions and keeps the person who just entered the memory walk through them as he wants to, unaffected by that world and not influencing anything in the mind). Our scientist is a good man, and wishes to use this in treating trauma and for other medical purposes. But once again, government becomes the temporary villain as they make him enter the mind of a suspected killer of a woman, Anthony (Dominic Bogart) with promises of money which he needs as well as a little threatening. But then the system refuses to log him off the mind of that man and his body is left motionless with his mind trapped in the memories of the murderer with nobody having any idea how to get him out. He keeps wandering in the memories until he starts trying to communicate with the owner of the memories.

The defence of Extracted :: Even without the use of that much of a budget, they have made this one interesting. There is absolutely no need for special effects of the highest quality to make a science fiction movie (listen Krrish 3, you never needed those horrible special effects which is not even fit to be called special, if you ever had a good story supported by fine acting). The graphics are kept at a simple level and the story is given the importance it deserves. There is not even a real villain, even as they do get into the mind of someone who is the bad guy. The scene when the infiltrator and the owner of the memory meet each other inside the mind in a fine point. The atmosphere they have created is not really that of a special effects aided fantasy with strange happenings, as the mind itself becomes just another reality with only two of them and of course the computer. There is no external or internal factor affecting the same, and that adds to the simplicity of the movie and way in which it progresses. These people are smart indeed.

Claws of flaw :: The memories doesn’t have anything special, as this is the mind of a man who is into drugs and a lot of illegal activities. His world is simple and often lacks details as the computer is forced to fill those areas with certain kind of fillers which dominates a good part of his memory. That would make the special effect lovers sad, as there is nothing to feel awesome out of this world. There are ambiguities, that is for sure, but of a very small kind. There are moments which could have been made better, and there was more scope for this movie in the way the narrative progresses, and the manner in which the whole situation is being built up. The simplicity is often the movie’s enemy, as the impression it creates stay within certain limits. If you are expecting a special effects marvel like The Matrix, an incredibly awesome looking creation like Inception or something as serene and yet powerful like The Cell, you are going to be disappointed. This one is a movie of this world and not anything else. There is almost nothing to take you to the highest levels of fantasy with visual awesomeness.

Performers of the soul :: The performances are surprisingly good, and it is one of the highlights of a movie which has been rather unknown. Sasha Roiz has done a great work in the movie, and if anything matches or betters that, it should be the performance of Dominic Bogart. While the former is more of a flat character, the latter is as dynamic as he can get, and moves on to the realization about himself not before thinking and coming into his own conclusions. The two female leads are also very good with the limited screen presence that they have, but they do have quite the emotional stuff to go through. If there was more character development in the case of the characters other than the owner of the mind, this could have been a great field for performances. There is nothing extraordinary out there, as everything remains so simple and believable. There is nothing of exaggeration even in a science fiction movie of complicated ideas, as there is a high chance for the same as we have seen in many such movies. These characters are done in a simple manner and the acting works in the right manner, even as most of us might not know any of these actors or actresses.

Soul exploration :: I wish to leave you with a few lines from a song in the Malayalam movie Memories: “Time flows like a river running wild, my mind’s swimming, swimming like a child, I watch the yesterdays go by, like moving patterns in the sky, memories never die”. The movie has a protagonist who is a drunkard living in the memories of his wife and daughter who were killed by a criminal, and he is as much caught in those memories as our hero here. Yes, that was an investigative thriller in which he gets out of them to solve a mystery, but here, we have a device and science fiction. We are all slaves to the past, and memories are all that he have, but when the memories are not ours, there comes the surprise, and just like Inception and The Cell, Extracted also sends someone into the mind of another person. I would recommend that song by the way, as its lines “I take a train into the past” and “Trapped in the desert of my mind” with the way in which it is sung and the scenes are shown in brilliant – it is that which comes to my mind when I watch this movie.

How it finishes :: Extracted is worth a watch if you liked Inception and The Cell, or may be even The Matrix. If there needs to be the reminder of another title, that would be Source Code. Be careful about expecting something spectacular, but expect something simple instead. I would compare this one more to The Cell rather than any other movie, and this is a lower budget version of such movies, taken in the right manner so that it can make an impression without too much quality. Its final plot twist is rather not that impressive, and the ending is adjusted than rather created with full power. It could have tried a little bit harder, and then it could have come up better. Whether you like it or not, we have to appreciate the efforts they have done to create so much out of a low budget movie without losing out. The movie proves that memory can be simple, and yet valuable, and there is no need for blue aliens or space station or inter-planetary travel to make a good science fiction movie. The ideas of The Matrix, Inception and The Cell can be further used, and none of them are finished. Even as budget matters, it is the attitude that matters more. In the end, there is that fine work which might not stay in our memories forever!

Release date: 10th March 2012
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Nir Paniry
Starring: Sasha Roiz, Dominic Bogart, Jenny Mollen, Frank Ashmore, Nick Jameson, Richard Riehle, Sara Tomko, Brad Culver, Richard Riehle, Rodney Eastman, Augie Duke

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Silence

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Questions of the day :: The first question of the day is less relevant, and it is about the day of release. Why would this movie be released on a Saturday? That gives the impression that the movie is less confident about fighting face to face with movies that release on the Friday as usual, and this was more of a “weak week” except for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire striking the multiplexes; that won’t help – it gives more of a feeling that by releasing on a Saturday or a Sunday, more family audiences can be lured to the theatres without reading a review. That is rather pure lack of confidence, something which we audience have more on all those who are behind this movie than they might have had on us. The next question is about the lack of publicity – this might be the least publicized movie of Mammootty as well as V.K. Prakash in a long time. Nobody really knew that this movie was going to release last Saturday. It was updated on multiplex lists much later, and there was no talks about it. Seriously, why release a superstar movie in secret? There are some posters, but in a week such as this, the movie could have done incredibly well with better marketing.

What is Silence? :: From the director who gave us Beautiful (my favourite movie from him), comes this flick which is more of a thriller. No it is not just Silence if you look closer into the poster, as it is The Power of Silence, with Silence written in big letters. I didn’t like his last few movies, but I was sure that there will be something good coming up from him soon. Only if they had marketed this well as they did for the inferior movies like Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla and Poppins. This has to be the least popularized Mammootty movie too, breaking the record of Kunjananthante Kada which also came sneaking into the theatres. But Silence is still moving silently, and there needs to be voices if it has to take it to the next level. Just because the name of a movie is The Power of Silence, would that mean its better to sneak into the theatres and run for a week with not many people knowing that it has released? Except for jobless people like me, of course. The fans will know, but for a neutral, this one had to be told about. What is the motive behind making this movie if nobody knows it has released? Who knows? Well, lets move on to what might point to our movie concerning corpus delicti!

What is it about? :: Aravind Chandrasekhar (Mammootty) is the newly appointed Chief Judge of the Karnataka High Court after a great run as a lawyer with absolutely no blemish. He is praised as the youngest person to achieve that honour and everything goes smoothly as he goes to his ancestral home with his wife Sangeetha (Pallavi Purohit) and two children. He is harassed by a phone call from an unknown person who seems to know almost everything about him, and tells him that he is not fit to be a judge. There are cars chasing him, people around his house, his daughter is given gifts by strangers and his son is found missing only to be found later. With the help of Neil George (Anoop Menon), an IPS officer and a good friend, he attempts to solve the mystery behind the people who are shadowing him. He finds that there is something about his past there, and goes back to look at the cases which he dealt with, and with the advice of his former rival Markose (Joy Matthew) and his juniors, he would find out the same just after the first half and gets to make things right.

The defence of Silence :: The movie does have the power of silence as it moves on silently, but with some hidden fire throughout the first half. It is a good attempt by the crew to make a thriller after the same director and scriptwriter did join earlier to make comedy movies. The movie is serious and is successful in making people think that there is something big coming up and there are surprises in store. The questions have been brought to light and the train of answers have been set up in such a way as to make sure that there will be no derailing except for some shaking in the second half. There is that feeling which has been missing in the thriller movies in Malayalam, which audience might have been waiting for. There is that point where the interval is set and it is where the movie is at its peak, and at the top it sends people to buy popcorn, kappa varuthathu, kadala and tea, waiting to pounce on them again after the interval, and people are left with high hopes.

Claws of flaw :: The second half takes an unnecessary leap and takes away the hopes. The beginning of the second half is okay, but as it progresses and reaches the second part of the second half, the curse takes over and by the climax, it is almost completely gone with the ship barely holding on at the top of the sea level with only the mast remaining on the top. The way they end this movie is rather despicable, and there is an underwater fight scene as they attack each other as if they were born to live underwater, but that place looks rather like an aquarium. Why all the stupidity and dialogues of nonsense in the end is a question which can spring up. The loopholes catches on, and the background music which comes out of nowhere and becomes disturbing for the ears with noise pollution is another despicable thing. The movie becomes rather amateurish as a thriller as it reaches the finishing line. The points that the movie scores is for the first half, and the for the second, it gets some points just because it doesn’t fall into the bottom of the abyss.

Performers of the soul :: Mammootty is the one who saves the movie again and again as the flick keeps losing steam on regular occasions. He makes sure that he does all that he can to keep this ship from sinking from the holes created by itself during a moonwalk with a glacier, and there is a lot of them which can make a regular Titanic sink. Anoop Menon has given him great support right from the beginning and his performance is as good as it can get, while Pallavi’s debut in Malayalam is just decent with nothing special added to the menu, and one often wonders if that character is there just because our protagonist needed a family and someone was to be kidnapped and left for dead by the villain. Aparna Nair has nothing but a presence, like the dead twin sister in Geethanjali. Joy Mathew has a very small role, but when he is there, he makes that impact that he always makes, and his character could have been further explored rather than left behind with a few dialogues. He would have been a better villain than anyone else in the movie. The child artists are also good.

How it finishes :: Silence is a silent scene for most of the viewers as the movie which doesn’t have even a wikipedia page (even small budget movies without superstars often manage one). Its power as a thriller might be disputed and its strength as a superstar movie might be questioned. V.K. Prakash and Y.V. Rajesh surely make a great combination (yes, I liked Gulumal: The Escape and Three Kings, no matter what). Not among the more interesting thrillers in any manner, and don’t compare this to Memories though, as it remains the best Malayalam thriller movie not only of this year, but also of a long time. Silence doesn’t rise even as a mediocre contender to that. But this one does have its moments of thrills which doesn’t go beyond a certain point. The thrillers with psychological as well as the investigative sides always make it interesting to watch, as proved by Memories, Nadia Kollappetta Rathri and Sahasram. Silence has a certain doubt if it should go with these three or last year’s Grandmaster, and there it confuses itself as well as the viewers, and gets drained of energy, yet holds its ground. There is information that it is inspired from multiple Hollywood flicks, but none I have watched. We need more thrillers in Malayalam, and so I suggest we should make this one a success!

Release date: 7th December 2013
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: V.K. Prakash
Starring: Mammootty, Anoop Menon, Joy Mathew, Pallavi Purohit, Aparna Nair, Kavitha Nair, Ravi Vallathole, Basil, Prakash Bare

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Woman in Black

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✠ A 1983 horror novel by Susan Hill was made into a movie of the same name, last year. But most of the people here haven’t been aware of the same, even as it had mostly positive reviews. That surprises me indeed, as it would have gained a lot if popularized here, thanks to the Harry Potter fans who might have been missing a leading man. There has been a 1989 movie, but we are going to stick to this 2012 version which has our Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe. I didn’t know that he was in it, and that was a pleasant surprise for me. There is no relation with the Men in Black franchise nor the aliens, and no neuralyzer was used in making me say so – you can check the usage records of the device for that. Instead, Woman in Black is a different supernatural story in a different setting, and it is a supernatural movie train which doesn’t run in our modern railroads, and therefore there is a chance that some horror fans might feel some displeasure. Still, my complaint is that there is the absence of something new in horror.

Count Dracula: Woman in Black? If you were looking for a Count in Black, I knew someone who could help you. The clue is that he has nice fangs which he brushes well without fail and lives in an awesome castle. Wait, do you need to talk to Brides in White? I know three, and I am pretty sure that you will love them.

Vampire Bat: And I thought he would confuse it with Men in Black. Do you understand anything I am saying? I am talking about the story of a woman who wears a black dress and if someone sees her, children die. Ever heard about it or something similar, world’s first official vampire Count?

Count Dracula: Are you talking about the lady who comes to clean the castle. I always knew there was something strange about her, and she wears black. My children of the night will be killed? Should I kill her first? Or is she too supernatural for me to get enough from her for my blood shake?

Vampire Bat: Not the cleaning lady. Your vision remains as clouded as the sky. No, not your children of the night. They can howl as much as they want, and you can look at the roof and have that weird expression which zombies have when they see humans with brains. Stop looking at the spider webs while talking. What is wrong with you?

Count Dracula: I am having dreadful visions. I see dead goblins and living halflings. Is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug due to be released soon? Never mind, please continue. I am as interested in that lady in black as I am inspired by that rotten zombie girl in the corner of that graveyard. I have heard about that novel too, not as good as the one written by Bram Stoker, and no good character as me…I mean that Count.

Vampire Bat: Well, a widowed lawyer Arthur Kipps is on a mission to arrange the sale of a house. He has one son whom he leaves at his place with a nanny as he visits the small town where it is located and during his visit to the house, he sees a strange woman wearing black dress. A child dies and the people of the town blames him for seeing that lady.

Count Dracula: Nothing new to me. It happens every time. They blame me all the time just because some random person dies somewhere near my castle. See, I am just a farmer. We are a peaceful farming community with better teeth. What about my rights? I was framed by Bram Stoker. But I have to agree that I liked it.

Vampire Bat: I can’t believe I am hearing this. Just a few days ago, you were playing mist and fog outside the second house on the eighth street. And stop farming skulls – they don’t grow. Pouring blood on them doesn’t create reddish fountains either. I am going to record all these some day. It is not like your case. This is a lady who lost her kid and wishes to take revenge on all the kids of the town, as she makes them do things which lead to their deaths.

Count Dracula: See, she is a hypnotherapist like me. One of my various skills attained due to practice. Am I not the vampire in black? Why not such a title with me as the leading character? There is nothing about that woman, she doesn’t even exist.

Vampire Bat: But you have to think about the environment the movie creates. The local people, legends, strange figures, screaming – the things haven’t been this strange since the last time Jonathan Harker was held captive in your castle. Those were great times, right? Wait, is that a 55 inch 3D LED TV? Where did that come from?

Count Dracula: I didn’t buy it. It was available for free with human Halloween masks in the goblin market. Nobody wanted that stuff as the Witch of the West’s unlimited inches magic TV is the hot item right now, and it has the latest video game “Humans are Evil”. Sounds so awesome, doesn’t it?

Vampire Bat: You are ruining the horror environment with such items. This is why you can’t always blame Twilight for ruining your reputation. Vampires don’t keep 3D TV at home, thats what pseudo-vampires do. You just drink blood in 3D. This is why you need to watch this movie so that you can understand how well the ambiance works.

Count Dracula: You mean to say that the Harry Potter kid has grown up a lot more than his final movie of that franchise? I remember seeing the poster of this movie, and how does he do? I don’t know anyone else from that movie, what about them? The only lady in black that can be scary might be that person from Insidious Part one and two.

Vampire Bat: Yes, he is the centre of attraction, and he might be the reason why the movie has good collection. My first feeling was that he might be having that Harry Potter hangover, but no, there he is away from that franchise, and he is once again taken into a world which asks for willing suspension of disbelief, that fantasy which is rather more of horror rather than simple magic and a little more advanced sorcery. He has survived beyond that magical world which lasted many years, and without a magic wand he takes on both the Woman in Black as well as us skeptics, ending up victorious – yet there is still a lot more to do for him in whatever awaits him next. The world is dark and gloomy, and so is his character, taking us with him as he fits in there, not with perfection, but in the right manner.

Count Dracula: So he is no longer the wizard. I know that he will be killed by that Woman in Black – it is not a guess, as it is something which I can feel. So this is a horror movie, but my doubt is if it does really scare?

Vampire Bat: Yes, it does, and it chooses to use the atmosphere and items for scaring rather than anything else. There are lots of surprise scares coming up, but the problem remains that there is no real explanation for most of the things around. It can only mean one of the two things, either they think that our brains are eaten by zombies, or we have too much of an imagination to find out more. Well, it deals with a big curse, so the things are to be different. It is creepy indeed and full points to the house and its location, but it seems missing out somewhere. I would have also liked another ending, that is for sure.

Count Dracula: So it is scary indeed, and I am going to watch and like it after I get rid of this bloody tv. Its time for me to brush my fangs again. Good bye, and watch movies.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It was quite short a movie. Lasting about one and half hours, the movie could have had more, and it just ended soon when we wanted more of it. Coming from the director of Eden Lake, this is not as good as that movie, but works well with the resources that it has. Yet, this is nothing new for most of us, as we have been provided with similar things a lot. But we can appreciate how it works as another horror movie, and I am always looking for more and more horror.

✠ Its sequel The Woman in Black: Angels of Death is also coming sometime later. Therefore, it is more of a necessity to have watched this movie and be prepared to welcome the Woman in Black into our lives. Watch it for the first true performance from Daniel Radcliffe as a non-wizard civilian of this world and all the creepy things that the movie has to offer. All the atmosphere rather affects the narrative progress, but in a movie like this, it is the creation of that spooky world that we are looking for, but the occasional drag might bing up questions. If you are looking for anything extraordinary or out of the supernatural, you might have to look for another movie. A cup of innovation could have helped. If you don’t like our leading actor, then you can run away too, as there is a lot of Daniel Radcliffe in this one, and he is there more than that lady is black. He might look too young for the role, but when he does well despite the uninterested looks, there is not much there to complain. Darkness and shadows everywhere, not even Dracula can complain.

Release date: 10th February 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White, Roger Allam, Tim McMullan, Jessica Raine

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hunger Games II

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On the predecessor :: The first movie in the franchise was released last year, and I have to say that I was impressed by the same. I shouldn’t feel that there are many people who doesn’t know the story, but I do know a few people who haven’t heard about it. So, it is a story set in the future, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where the world is divided into a rich Capitol which controls things and twelve poor districts. The boys and girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen (One boy and one girl from each district) are forced to take part in the Hunger Games conducted by the Capitol, an annual reality event telecast all around world. The selected youth known as “the tributes” are required to fight till death until there will be only one person remaining alive. Our protagonist is a young lady joined by the male tribute from her same district to be declared winners as they both threaten to commit suicide thus making the games invalid with everyone else dead – the first time when more than one winner is selected. The Capitol as well as the President remains unhappy about it, but covers the action as an act of true love and not a rebellion so that there won’t be the chance of a revolution against the Capitol from the suffering districts.

What is it about? :: Time has passed since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) took the place of her little sister who was chosen by lottery to participate in the games and won it with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) creating a new record and bringing about a certain difference which was not entertained by the authorities. But they have returned home as the unexpected winners. President Coriolanus Snow visits the lady and tells her to prove that her action was based on love rather than defiance, as there are lots of rebellions taking place in districts, thanks to them defying the order to kill each other. But it doesn’t really work well as the winners’ visit to District 11 lets the emotions run high and sparks riots. Snow decides to get this problem finished as he declares the third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Hunger Games held in every twenty five years in which the participants are to be selected from recent winners. Even as Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is selected by lottery with Katniss to participate, Peeta takes his place and both are once again in the game, this time against better opponents.

The defence of The Hunger Games :: The best thing about the movie is that it tells us how ridiculous these reality shows are, and we should rather be ashamed of them for making it “reality” when those who conduct the shows decide who should win. I was shocked at the number of reality shows in India, especially in Malayalam television channels, and they were getting more and more pathetic, except for may be the comedy shows. The word “reality” is the one thing that doesn’t suit them as many unnecessary outside forces work through it. The movie’s take on the other things such as inequality, oppression and the evil of a dystopia is highly effective and moving – its rather direct, I would say with people always told what to do and obey in a world filled with false hope. All of its themes have been portrayed beautifully, bringing our feelings alive for the characters – the oppressed ones. The twist in the end is also pretty nice, and there is found to be nothing missing about it. This movie has also improved in its graphics and there are some better special effects and action in store compared to its predecessor.

Claws of flaw :: The Hunger Games II is too long, and nobody can really defend against that. The movie was also very slow in getting into the action, as the tournament starts only some time after the second half starts. There are occasions when one might thing why this chooses to drag when not needed. The emotional side remains something of lesser power compared to the first despite the characters going through more, and we might not remember this one as we remember the first. The climax is surely inferior to what was there in the predecessor with an end which is too quick, and there is too much of a projection of the leading character which gets repetitive and one is forced to wonder what is there for that. A better game was also expected by the viewers, that is for sure judging from how the people were responding in the theatre. The movie is too much like the first movie, and there is also the absence of that much fun as well as seriousness. But this one remains a force to reckon with, and it can lose only to that force which will come as another sequel, The Hobbit II, and if I am asked more about it, I expect that one to keep this one restricted to one of those corners as shows are concerned.

Performers of the soul :: I had watched Silver Linings Playbook recently, and I was sure about who was going to steal the show once again, yes that is our leading lady, the girl on fire, Jennifer Lawrence. With the intensity of her character and the severe shortage of any good feeling, the life of Katniss is powerfully portrayed, and there are not many characters in a science fiction movie that affects the audience like this, and there are not many actresses who might have done the role so well, so charming in her disturbed state of mind and so strong even in the weakest state, Katniss is a lot more than the ordinary sci-fi hero or heroine, and it is evident that Jennifer Lawrence has indeed awakened Katniss again. Josh Hutcherson isn’t lost in that either, as Peeta deserves a lot, and he makes sure that the characters get what is deserved. Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Philip Hoffman and Donald Sutherland are there with valuable support in a combination of fine performances. Another character I liked was Johanna Mason played by Jena Malone, there was something about that one.

Soul exploration :: The Hunger Games continues as the indirect satire on reality television, and how its winners are determined by those who are at the top. I liked the same in The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso, but on the entertainment side. The evil of dictatorship is also there, and the thing about inequality is even stronger in this second movie of the franchise. The revolution side is also stronger in this one as it starts powerfully right from the beginning of the movie. In a world which is moving more and more towards modernity and its horrible side effects, what we see in the movie gets more and more relevant. There is always pain, suffering, helplessness and oppression – everyone fights more than one battle for survival, and everyone with a mind is a revolutionary, hopefully of the peaceful nature. The power of media and government control becomes more shocking than ever in this movie. As Katniss sacrifices her life to save her sister in the first movie, the sacrifice is done by Peeta this time.

How it finishes :: The newer fiction doesn’t really work well for me when made into movies, the most significant ones being Twilight, The Host and Mortal Instruments – the novels won’t work for me either, but that would spawn another story another day. I am glad that this is another movie which worked, and it is going to make more in the box-office here as the movie of the weekend. The month starts well and hope the year ends well! There are not many more movies to come. It is not really necessary to watch the first movie before Catching Fire, but it might be nice if you do. There are lots of things that is carried over to this movie, but this sequel can still work out alone as the story is concerned – but one will only be happy about having watched the first movie. Lets hope that it will only get better with the next movie in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 as well as its sequel. Let the hunger stay alive, for freedom and equality.

Release date: 6th December 2013 (India); 22nd November 2013 (US)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Wrath of the Titans

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✠ It was in 2010 that my favourite movie based on Greek mythology released, in the form of Clash of the Titans – but I have to admit that I haven’t watched many movies based on that mythology. The 2011 version, Immortals was strictly okay. Even as my love for Greek mythology goes as far as my childhood with such stories easily available in a local version in the nearby library, the love was extended to something better in the first half of the 2000s with that city building game called Zeus: Master of Olympus. Despite the similar games Pharaoh and Caesar III, this was the game which stole my time, and the fact that it was based on the mythology helped, just like in the case of Age of Mythology. Wrath of the Titans is that sequel which falls somewhat behind from its predecessor, and has not many things to boast about. Otherwise, it could have come up with an extraordinary box-office performance, that is for sure.

Count Dracula: You had to watch that? I heard that the gods die in the movie. I couldn’t stand that after watching Immortals. They call themselves immortals and they die, isn’t it the same case with Wrath of the Titans? I guess I am the true immortal of this world, and about the other dimensions, I shall speak not.

Vampire Bat: Immortality is losing soil right from underneath its feet. The main culprit is the use or rather the abuse of vampire mythology in the works like Twilight. The ridiculous glorification of immortality has lead to at least some people having a certain feeling against it, and it seems that Immortals and Wrath of the Titans have tried to hold onto that aversion towards immortality by killing those gods who were supposed to be immortals. Now the gods die and random pale teenagers with bad teeth lives forever with strange pacts, ideas and a love story which should qualify as the wonder blunder of the world.

Count Dracula: I am glad that you didn’t call them vampires. Yes, they are blood suckers and not vampires. They belong to a breed of mosquitoes. They are also indirectly killing not only the vampire franchise, but also many others, and the Greek mythology is also one of them. I won’t even talk about the other group walking on four legs. It is beyond hope, but still what is it in Wrath of the Titans?

Vampire Bat: This movie’s incidents happen many years after the events of the first movie, as the gods keeping on losing power and they almost lose control over the imprisoned Titans until Ares and Hades turns against the other gods and make the process complete. Zeus is captured and kept a prisoner as Kronos slowly awakes and Poseidon dies. The other gods are not even in the fight, as Hephaestus is the only one who is there to show himself. If you are looking for gods, you better play the game Zeus: Master of Olympus.

Count Dracula: I have never seen that horrible gods as those in Immortals. In that movie, when it was known that Luke Evans was Zeus, I thought that he was just a crazy guy who lived in one of those caves. I would rather not see them if I have to witness them like that. I would still miss Aphrodite though. They could have also had Athena and Artemis, as the only divine creature I liked in Immortals was Isabel Lucas’ Athena. I wondered how it would have been if Freida Pinto played an immortal.

Vampire Bat: We don’t even get to see Gemma Arterton, as her character is declared dead. Alexa Davalos is also missing, as Rosamund Pike becomes Andromeda, something which doesn’t seem to fit as a whole. Sienna Miller or Rachel Nichols might have been a better choice as this time the lady is more of a warrior princess rather than the damsel in distress. My imagination of Andromeda is completely destroyed by this movie.

Count Dracula: Well, if you consider the destruction of the images in my mind caused by Immortals, there will be too long a list. They are all trying to deviate from the mythology that we have read. Even Percy Jackson was closer to mythology than the so called mythological movies. Why would you even watch a movie based on mythology after such a setback?

Vampire Bat: The special effects are excellent, and what it misses out on the story, it tries to make up with the graphics and the action sequences. May be some of our literature postgraduates can come up with a better story than this one which has quite a useless Zeus and Poseidon, a more wasted Hephaestus and a strange Ares along with a Hades with clear psychological problems making it almost impossible for him to do the right thing or even the wrong thing. Perseus and Andromeda doesn’t even seem to belong to the world. It is still that visual extravaganza that you can watch on the big screen.

Count Dracula: It has Sam Worthington as Perseus, and that should be its best advantage. One can guess that without even going near that movie. Whenever he is there, one can feel that there will be something there to look out for. I am not an Avatar fan, but if someone can save a movie with his presence even without many people of a land knowing the name of the actor, it is him.

Vampire Bat: Yes, he does save the movie just like Perseus saves the world. Rosamund Pike also does the same, not as Andromeda, but more as a warrior princess or a fighter queen who has come to aid whoever tries to save humanity. Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson are given what might be their worst characters ever, and why would they need these two to play those characters is so strange. May be as the characters are like that, these two were needed to make it any good. This is such a shame that monsters of this movie saves the day for the viewers while the gods ruin the same – the exact opposite of what happens in the movie.

Count Dracula: I would rather like the movie for being what might be the last movie based on Greek mythology for a very long time. Everyone needs a dose of Greek mythology, not considering Percy Jackson which is a different take. The love for monsters is a thing of this age. This is an age of no faith, and people tend to like monsters more than gods and pretend that they don’t believe in both. Trust me when I say this from my experience – it is not in human nature to be good, and without civilization, they are nothing. It is the beliefs and the faith in God that keeps them good, and the bad are only those who deviate from faith.

Vampire Bat: I agree, as there is no pillar for faith in this age. I have to struggle with my set of beliefs very often because there is always an attempt to brainwash people into believing that there is no God, and there is no evil. People are denied the chance to live in faith, and we are glad to be part of a nation which has more faith in the supreme power than any other. The weakening of the gods with the loss of faith of humans is a parallel to the recession and the financial problems which Europe and America have faced due to the loss of faith, and the nations with faith are improving. Without faith, you are nothing – even Zeus was nothing.

Count Dracula: Exactly my thoughts. I am a man who has seen almost all wars which you have studied about. None of those wars were actually religious wars. There were just people who lost faith in God and went for material achievements. They never conquered anything for God. They did it for themselves and to enjoy their life on Earth. I have seen into their mind and they had only “Carpe Diem” in their mind. Most of them didn’t really believe in me, and it is such a shame. I lose my confidence when they loss faith in me. Then I can only transform into a little toothless black cat!

Vampire Bat: That comparison is one of those things which I could find. Hades is more like the devil, feeding from the fears of man, but he is also that fallen angel whom Milton told us about. We would love to see such a movie being made based on Paradise Lost, and the fact that the Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Lucifer will no longer happen is such a shame. The movie could have taken the movie experience to greater heights, something which Noah might succeed in a limited manner. But nothing like angels and demons fighting a war and their leader delivering those speeches. Not even Kraken, Chimera, Cyclops, Minotaur and Kronos together could have stood a chance.

Count Dracula: They can rather develop an original mythology based on my life. Yes, I have fought my battles and my tale has one of the best stories ever, which can be developed into a mythology. I know you would still rate this high enough, and I might also do the same, even with that knowledge that this is an unwanted sequel.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it shall get a 70/100 for its special effects, 3D, the leading actor, use of whatever mythology they can, the action sequences, the monsters and bringing a different idea on gods and ending the franchise for good. That will be good?

Count Dracula: Yes, I think it is. Well, it is time for me to go to the Goblin Market and sharpen my fangs. Good bye, my brother in fangs.

Vampire Bat (to himself): Wrath of the Titans is a lot like its predecessor and it has only a few new things. If this movie was the first of the franchise, the whole thing could have been better, and as a stand-alone version, this scores better. There is a lot of monster stuff for the fans of Greek mythology stories, but that hasn’t really helped, and that much we can easily figure out from the way the responses have been.

Wrath of the Titans will not improve your impression about movies based on mythology, and it won’t make you better with greater knowledge of Greek mythology. Don’t consider it your spark-notes, but watch it for the visual treat that it has to offer with special effects and action sequences. Also, look out for the labyrinth. Lets hope for Hercules: The Thracian Wars to be great, even as it is more of a comic based adventure rather than having a strong base in Greek mythology. We might need a lot more than just a random mythological story to come up with a perfect demigod story. There is the need for a lot more, and the lack of popularity of Wrath of the Titans is no real surprise. For now, we can adjust with this movie, and compared to Immortals, this is a much better choice, and scores as being among the best of its kind (mostly due to not many movies of the kind being released).

Release date: 30th March 2012
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Édgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Battleship

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What is Battleship? :: I have to admit that I had no idea that this was an alien movie mostly based on the sea before I went on to watch it. Yes, I found out that a Hollywood movie has released in the local theatre which would cost me absolutely no travelling charges and just the fifty rupees for the ticket, and wasted no time in looking for the plot synopsis or the reviews. Convert it, and it is not even one Unites States Dollar – too good for a movie with Hollywood effects. Thank God for the cheap tickets even in those multiplexes. Well, let me tell you that this is a confused movie, as it clearly wonders what is is supposed to do and why it is exists. In the meaningless or rather absurd world that it creates, the movie wonders what is it doing. But there is lot of entertainment in store in that world. If people can make Krrish 3 a superhit, why not this one? Always a better science fiction story than Krrish 3 – with better graphics, better story and a lot more. The best thing is that nobody really comes up and gives it a four out of five.

The Setting :: I always loved Battleship as the guessing game that it is. In spite of reminding me of that very old game called Minesweeper which I played while my computer lab hours of Plus Two, it was fun enough and may be one of those few games which I could just win by making some of the most stupid guesses. I didn’t know how to play the other games including Hearts, Solitaire and Backgammon and my only hope was to install Pinball or Allen Border’s Cricket – those were the days of floppy games, the memories keeping me nostalgic. So here comes Battleship as a movie, and I wondered how is it related to the game? May be because the makers were trying too much of a guessing game about the success of this movie, or may be our hero’s guess work has finally paid off and the alien invaders are defeated. There is indeed a lot of strange happenings in the movie, and I would like to guess that the aliens too guessed after having their own guessing game, may be named “Starship” – yes this has aliens and the military, and lots of battleships from both sides.

What is it about? :: Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is an undisciplined U.S. Navy officer who is in love with Samantha Shane (Brookyln Decker) who is the daughter of Admiral Terrance Shane (Liam Neeson) and our hero is just steps away from being discharged from the navy. But sometimes good things come in the form of an invasion and the best things come in the form of an alien invasion, that too concentrating in the ocean, thus giving him that opportunity to be the alien war hero. Well, five alien spacecrafts arrive, thanks to the curious Earthling cats trying to kill themselves with their space programs and their attempts to communicate and travel to the other world. The Navy fleet comes in contact with an alien fleet and gets most of their forces destroyed. With most of the people dead and Alex Hopper being the next person on charge, he has to take on the aliens with whatever crew he has left (which obviously includes Rihanna’s character) while his girlfriend who is with a U.S. Army veteran tries to take on some other aliens in another way.

The defence of Battleship :: It is better than the other two alien movies which turned out to be success at the box-office in the earlier years, Skyline (2010) and Battle: Los Angeles (2011), but this wouldn’t be that much of a box-office success, mostly due to the higher budget and secondly due to it coming later, after Cowboys and Aliens as well as The Darkest Hour, none of them creating that big impression which the alien movies needed. I don’t think that none of these movies are bad though. Well, I would say that this one needs to be watched just for its action sequences, well-designed alien spacecrafts and weaponry, the special effects and the well-designed alien creatures. We could take the virus-logic of the 1996 Will Smith movie which they decided to name Independence Day and most of the audience accepted the movie which one of the worst climaxes that anyone could think about, and so thinking more about this movie is vain, and one has to accept this one for the effort that was put into it and all that has worked.

The claws of flaw :: There is good design, but that mostly leaves the alien ships as transformers of the ocean (but still having their own style), and the movie concentrates rather too much on the navy which is rather an overdose which one could have avoided. They could have had it, but with lesser emphasis on the awesomeness of that navy or rather decreasing the screen-time. Yes, the name of the movie is Battleship, but it doesn’t mean that you have to praise battleships and show them again and again making us feel that it is the hero and the characters are not important at all. You have someone like Taylor Kitsch and someone as awesome as Liam Neeson, but where is the focus? On the battleships of humans and aliens. May be it can have a big basket to keep its collection of cliches. When a movie tries to claim that it is adapted from a game like Battleship, what can you expect? They can’t even copy the cutscenes or dialogues! Why water? Because they want to show battleships a lot!

Performers of the Soul :: Taylor Kitsch is there playing the protagonist (the one which is human), but doesn’t have that good a role which could prove his abilities, and is still good with the character. John Carter was awesome and his performance was great, and another thing that I appreciate about him is that he is ready to do a sequel to the movie which might be highly unlikely due to its previous box-office performance. I am proud of thee and Lynn Collins. He deserves better than this, just like John Carter deserved a lot more. I really don’t know why they had Rihanna in the movie, and it is a question better left unanswered. Brooklyn Decker has her presence, but one has to think that she wasn’t really needed in this movie, and this so much pales in comparison to how she has been in Sports Illustrated. Another question is that how could they waste an actor like Liam Neeson is such an insignificant role? Ra’s al Ghul and Jean Veljean should dislike that, and I am not even going to Oskar Schindler.

How it finishes :: Battleship is more of an excuse to make another alien invasion movie and get some box-office collection from it. People can watch it to stare at Brooklyn Decker, but it also gives us some reasons why the third movie of Transformers was not that good (as if the second was of any good). This movie also has the CGI and special effects which rival that series, and has Brooklyn Decker instead of Megan Fox and the other lady who was there for the looks. Battleship will not be a movie franchise like Transformers, and this might be the last time we see such an alien movie based on the ocean, but this movie can surely provide us with a lot of entertainment as long as one chooses to watch it. This is still a better movie than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon – if you ever come across these movies at the same time on television, watch this one; has more logic, common sense, style and even better characters and story than the mis-adventures from Bay, and not to forget the use of graphics and the right use of special effects on the explosions and stuff.

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Release date: 18th May 2012
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Jesse Plemons, Adam Godley, Gregory D. Gadson, Peter MacNicol, John Tui, Hamish Linklater

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Journey 2

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What is Journey 2: The Mysterious Island? :: It is a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth which had Brendan Fraser in the lead with the comparatively less known Anita Briem along with Josh Hutcherson. It was based on the nineteenth-century novel of the same name by Jules Verne and had great special effects and CGI which could have been great in 3D or may be 4D. I couldn’t watch that one in 3D, but did manage to watch its sequel in its full power, and managed to watch it so many more times on television, thanks to Star Movies, or was it HBO? This sequel is based on another Jules Verne novel, this time The Mysterious Island. Well, who better than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to replace Brendan Fraser? Both are my favourite actors indeed, and that makes this a special series for me, and I have to say that I liked the sequel better than the original, just by a slight margin. Michael Caine and Vanessa Hudgens are two great additions to the franchise.

The Setting :: The movie is loosely based on the novel, which I had read in its abridged form long ago. This version of the original classic has a grown-up Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson), years after the incident which involved his journey to the centre of the Earth with his uncle Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser). Just like Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne is the guide in the first movie, Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island is the guide this time. The journey continues to be personal, and through the new world, they will find new relationships and also strengthens what all were weak and struggling. There is a lot of potential for using the best CGI and all the special effects, and with the movie being released in 3D, there is a lot in store for the viewers here, even as the chance to watch it on the big screen has disappeared. It should still look pretty nice with a good cable connection and an LED television.

What is it about? :: Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is back in action, as he tries to find his lost grandfather Alexander Anderson (Michael Caine) this time. With the help of his stepfather Hank Parsons (Dwayne Johnson), he deciphers the code which is supposed to have been sent by the grandfather even as he doesn’t get along with Hank much to the dismay of his mother Elizabeth (Kristin Davis). The stepfather and the son travel together to Palau according to the codes. There they assigns a helicopter guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) who agrees to take them to the dangerous island for three thousand United States dollars. The helicopter is caught in a storm and they crash into the island. There they encounter strange animals until coming up against a giant lizard, from which the grandfather saves them. Now the question remains if they can get out of the island which is going to sink in two days. In the process, they will have to get the aid or avoid a good number of creatures.

The defence of Journey 2 :: The movie’s best advantage is its graphics, as it has created an outstanding 3D world which clearly makes a point that it is indeed a mysterious island, and not of this world, nor connected to any logical or scientific factors of modernity. It is indeed funnier, and has more beautiful world compared to the original. It is an adventure which is friendly enough for all ages, and therefore clearly suitable for family viewing. The movie’s theme of family is mostly worked out well too, with the father-son, father-daughter bonding often working quite well in the background. There are a few impressive dialogues which they drop in here and there. There is a very well created chase scene involving giant bees and huge birds, as well as nice sequences involving the sinking of an island and a submarine which all look beautiful in 3D. It can boast of a strong 3D adventure inside it, supported by a literary work which brings in nostalgia to the mind.

The claws of flaw :: The movies similarities to the original novel as well as its connection to its predecessor are limited. There is your typical lack of logic, but it is covered by the background book as well as the brilliant special effects in 3D which takes you to another world. There is no contribution from a horror side, but simple, non-threatening world, and that often adds to the better impression it creates for families. It might also have a little bit of emptiness in it considering such a marvelous world it created and how it has brought up so much less and ended in just one and half hours. We watched it on the same day as Agneepath, which meant that this felt much shorter, especially considering how much of a pathetic and long movie the Hritik Roshan starrer Bollywood movie was – it was the worst movie of 2012 indeed, and thanks to The Rock and his team that the day was saved and I didn’t watch many Hindi movies after that in the year.

Performers of the Soul :: Josh Hutcherson has his moments, especially with Vanessa Hudgens, but The Rock steals the show, just like he does in any wrestling ring. I would be surprised if there is a good number of people who won’t watch the movie just for the man. Yes, you have to love him – he sings “What a Wonderful World” and also teaches his stepson something on how to get the attention of the lady; the man scores with the funny moments really well, even as the muscles come to donate a lot to the score quite often. When Dwayne Johnson is not scoring, it is Michael Caine who takes the lead only to lose it to the magnificent screen presence of the former WWE champion, one of the most popular Wrestling superstars ever. Vanessa Hudgens is there for the looks, and her cute and charming presence catches your attention if not the beauty and the clothing. She never looked better – no not even in Springbreakers; that was too much of a gorgeous side. Kristin Davis has very little to do, that too in the real world, while Luis Guzman is quite funny throughout.

How it finishes :: The movie works mainly due to Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine, and no surprises there. The movie is a fine mix of everything good and nothing unworthy of the family audience. It is not a classic movie which can justify the book on which it is based, but an entity which is of visual splendor, unlimited fun and awesome actors. There is absolutely no human character in the movie that you won’t like, and there is no real villain even in the form a creature of the mysterious island. It has taken out everything bad or evil from its core, and has filled it with more and more good and sweet things. Jules Verne won’t complaint about this though, neither will the authors of Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels – this indeed saves the world from the less interesting adaptation of the latter which was released in 2010. You can catch this one very often in the English movie channels; its quite a frequent visitor to the television, and if you have missed this one, you haven’t really been checking the channels enough.

Release date: 10th February 2012
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Michael Caine, Luis Guzman, Kristin Davis

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.