Brick Mansions

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Action promised and provided :: This movie had given me the feeling that it is the last time I should be seeing Paul Walker on the big screen (pending what is to come in Fast & Furious 7, of course). Here, what seems to be a higher rating for some of those who have watched this movie is more of the result of my personal admiration for the actor and of course considering the fact that how well the movie has delivered what it had promised. This is the English remake of one of the most admired action movies of the 2000s, the French flick, District 13 – released in 2004 and not many moments without me hearing something about it whenever action movies were mentioned. There was absolutely no doubt about which movie I was to watch this weekend, thanks to Brick Mansions. I haven’t watched the original yet, and I guess that helps to like this movie much better. To add to it, Brick Mansions is a movie completely set in the future, and a situation which a dystopia. Thus, even though not focused, I would say that it not short of its themes. But, as there is no real surprise, the movie depends a lot on its action sequences and breath-taking stunts, something which hasn’t been this efficiently used for quite a long time. So here is the much awaited movie for the fans of the genre.

What is it about? :: The setting is the dystopian Detroit, in the distant future, when the brick mansions of the city become home to the city’s biggest criminals. In a complete absence of law and order and the ever increasing power of the criminal gangs, the police is forced to construct a containment wall outside the area so that nobody comes in or goes out unnoticed. The people inside the containment are separated from the rest, and this is hailed as an innovative and effective step to prevent the normal citizens of the city who live outside the Brick Mansions. To that situation comes Damien Collier (Paul Walker) who is attempting to free the city of crime and corruption, and also have revenge on the man who killed his father, as he remains an undercover cop. Meanwhile, Lino Dupree (David Belle) is a man different from the others in Brick Mansions, attempting to live a good life and hoping to prevent the community from degrading further into chaos. As his girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis), working as a waiter in a restaurant is kidnapped by the drug lord to get even with him who causes troubles for their illegal business, he combines forces with Damien who is looking forward to settle scores with the same man – Tremaine Alexander (RZA).

The defence of Brick Mansions :: The movie has Paul Walker in his last movie doing a wonderful job, David Belle with his great acrobatics and the beautiful Catalina Denis getting to take part in some action too. You have to love the aerial shots of the area. Then there are the action sequences which are lead by David Belle, master of the art of parkour. We get into the action right in the beginning itself as he runs, climbs, rolls, swings and jumps to avoid the guys chasing him, and at the same time, beating up anyone who comes in direct contact with him. He is easily identified as the one to look out for. There is the need not to drag, and having the action sequences at most priority as far as movies like this are concerned, because that is what the viewers expect and that is what the movie delivers. There is no dull moment in this movie, and there are a few lighter scenes too despite the total nature of the movie. But at the same time, the theme of dystopia is not abandoned, and it exists with the car chases, shooting and melee combat scenes. The setting of the movie plays a big part in defining the progress. Brick Mansions is a great way to remember Paul Walker, even as it won’t create any magic like the Fast and Furious franchise did.

Claws of flaw :: Finding fault with this movie might be rather too easy, and it is evident from a good number of negative reviews. There haven’t been many action movies which got the critical appreciation that they deserved. The first major assault on this movie might be about it being a little too unrealistic and not trying to be smart enough. Yes, Brick Mansions might not be smart and surely not original considering that it is a remake, and unrealistic as a whole. But unlike some of the other movies, for example, Transcendence, this movie doesn’t try to make the claim or does it try to look realistic when it is not really that. I would have liked to have a better twist added to the movie’s ending, not as part of finding fault, but making it better. Then you are welcome to feel that the plot is a little predictable, but that should happen because this is the remake of that older movie. It could have been a better allegory given its setting. Something to ponder over in the middle of those action sequences wouldn’t have hurt much, after all the action sequences seems to have come naturally to all the actors and actresses involved with the scenes. The movie might feel a little bit like a video game for a few, with so much of non-stop action involved, but this is not made for such people.

Performers of the Soul :: Paul Walker remains charming and the more silent assassin in this movie, as he is wonderful in this performance too. He is like a more human version of Judge Dredd with all the simplicity. He has less action sequences to perform than David Belle who starts with the action sequences right from the beginning, being the more aggressive and a lot more acrobatic of the two. He played the same character in the original, and has come up with a breath-taking performance in this one, as far as action sequences are concerned. Meanwhile, RZA make a fine dystopian villain, even as the element of evil is rather weak except for shooting his own people and threatening to launch a rocket towards the city. In being evil, Ayisha Issa plays his sidekick and overtakes him in being bad, whether in her sadness in not getting to kill Lino or to murder millions by destroying the city or whether it is in tormenting the kidnapped Lola, her character becomes the bigger villain. Catalina Denis is gorgeous as Lola and the best thing about her is that she comes up with some sylish action sequences of her own, when not being beaten up by the lady villain. I hope we see a lot more from the beautiful and talented Colombian actress in future.

Soul exploration :: Brick Mansions might seem to give nothing to think about, for most of its viewers, but the movie has its own versions of the abuse of power which the men with power exert on the marginalized, and also that division of people which has made the situation more suitable for a dystopian government. There is too much inequality, and Lino’s attempt to become a better man in a society of crime which is rather helped by the containment walls would rather land him in prison and his girlfriend in the captivity of his enemies. There will always be more than one kind of people in all sides, both good and evil, and also grey. There will always be angels, fallen angels and the demons, and it is an inescapable fact of life. Containment walls were never supposed to be a solution. If people can’t change, there is no point in exile, and the government’s choice of dividing its own people instead of attempting fight crime in an efficient manner will finally go against itself, as depicted against the movie. There will sometimes be heroes who help the process, and otherwise it is just pain luck that goes against the oppression. The movie’s heroes have their own beliefs only to be tricked by the dystopian environment that is around them.

How it finishes :: Here is what might be your last chance to see Paul Walker on the big screen, and you won’t wish to miss it. But it does deserve to be seen for its action sequences too, as far as you can enjoy them without thinking about how something was possible and what is the logic behind the same. After that scene in which David Belle is running away in the beginning, a few other interesting sequences include Paul Walker teaming up with him to beat up a much stronger man, the two car chasing scenes, Catalina Denis’ fight with Ayisha Issa and the final dealing of her lady foe problem and Paul’s early drug bust (that shouldn’t lead to the underestimation of the other fight scenes though). This should be the week of Brick Mansions, thanks to Transcendence being bad and no big Hollywood release here this weekend. Even the regional movie releases haven’t worked that well. Most of you do need to watch Brick Mansions for those reasons, and I have a feeling that even those who don’t want might just end up watching it. If this can’t convince you, there is still the original District 13 with the subtitles to be watched, and I hope that you get the taste of it in one way or the other.

Release date: 25th April 2014
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Camille Delamarre
Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle, Catalina Denis, RZA, Ayisha Issa, Robert Maillet, Carlo Rota, Kwasi Songui

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rio II

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All the colours of the world :: I had decided not to watch a movie until Easter, but this Saturday was always going to be a free day, and another movie and some writing was around the corner. I hope you all had a good Good Friday, and yes, this day before the Easter Sunday is at the animated Amazon for me. A sequel to the animated movie of 2011 stays alive this week too, much to my surprise, and I decided to watch it this time even as I had chosen not to go for it last weekend due to the powerful flow of too many movies. The one thing everyone was to be sure about was that the movie was to be incredibly colourful. Well, it has too many blue birds, and the other colours just support the one dominant colour, and this presence of colours is not really the Vampire Bat’s area. In fact, there is always something about colours as far as most of the animated movies are concerned. But the Vampire Bat does like birds, even as he doesn’t fly (Rio itself was about a bird who couldn’t fly). Then there is Rio de Janeiro along with the Amazon forests, as one of those dream cities which needs a visit in one life or the other. So Rio 2 is in the list.

A flashback :: When Rio released in 2011 with the tagline “from the creators of Ice Age“, it was something to be missed. It was not to be as popular as the other creature-animation stuffs like Ice Age and Madagascar, but it was to leave something good enough to bring more later in the form of Rio 2. Another successful franchise was to begin there, and continue the success that most animated movies enjoyed. It was the story of two macaws, Blu and Jewel as they struggle to escape from smugglers, making a lot of friends in the city of Rio de Janerio and also falling in love. We see that the owners of the two birds who fall for each other build a sanctuary for them at the end and the hero who was a flightless bird getting to fly by the end and saving his love, the only other bird of the same species. It had a seventy two percent in the Rotten Tomatoes and did well with the audience too, as it scored nice at the box-office. But does this movie work well enough to be a worthy successor for that movie? I did have my doubts about that.

What is it about? :: Rio 2 continues the story a few years after the incidents of the first movie. The hero birds are having a good time in the city of Rio with their three kids, who are too naughty and strangely smart to handle. The things change when they come to know that they are not the last of their kind on the planet, as more macaws are alive and can be found somewhere in the Amazon. Jewel is very interested in going into the forest and finding the others, while Blu is uncertain and kids are looking for an adenture. He finally agrees to go as the other members of the family wants it so much and his friends have also decided to join the team, except for the bulldog who gets late. Meanwhile, their old enemy Nigel notices the team and pursues them with his newfound minions, a poisonous frog who is in love with him and a hesitant ant-eater who is always looking for food. The birds soon find what they were looking for, and the leader of the macaws turn out to the father of Jewel who is rather unimpressed by Blu’s domesticated and human-loving behaviour. But as humans invade and attempt to clear the forests, they have to work together so that they can save the macaw home as well as save the environment.

The defence of Rio 2:: Rio 2 has assembled the most colourful birds with animation, and this time, there are a few animals joining the party too, not just a bulldog; but the movie remains about birds and birds only. The major colour remain blue, thanks to our star birds, then there are the red ones, all moving around in the green forests, making the whole things mostly about three colours and its variants. These creatures dominate the screen and easily entertain the kids and impress the eyes of the elders. The success of this movie will be more about how the kids and the families take all these. Other than the birds, there is the beauty of Amazon forests as well as the charm of the city of Rio de Janeiro which will stay in our minds for quite some time, especially the Christ the Redeemer statue, the mountains and the aerial shots of the Amazon river surrounded by green forests. There is nothing like a landscape so beautifully recreated through animation. There is a certain amount of joy that one can get from watching such a spectacle on the screen, and there is no denying it. As one of the jewelry ads here say, “beauty meets quality”, that meeting was something needed by the movie though.

The claws of flaw :: The movie moves through predictable lines. There is nothing too unexpected. There is nothing much that you haven’t seen before either. There is the father’s relationship with the kids and the husband’s differences in opinion with his wife. There is the misunderstood male protagonist in the centre of all these, and nothing really makes us feel that much. That makes this more of an unnecessary sequel for the regular viewers, even as the box-office collections are going to prove that it was much needed for the makers. The songs are actually less interesting, and any expectation that it was going to be something like those in Frozen is not going have a happy going. They rather affect the movie in the wrong way instead of helping it. The villain has turned Shakespearean here, as a birdy Hamlet with a skull in his hands and saying “to be or not to be” and continues to perform as if he is on a theatre, but otherwise, he is less effective. His side-kick or the new Juliet feels more like a dropped frog from Romeo and Juliet, and sings rather too much. The 3D is wasted, and that hurts the visual experience, especially if you had to pay extra for the glasses.

Soul exploration :: The movie is all about the protagonist attempting to keep both the human and animal world with him, not disheartening his wife and children who are more into the wilderness stuff. He tries his best, but both the father-in-law as well as his wife’s childhood friend seems to feel that he is a misfit and a pet of humans who will betray the birds on this day or another, and in no way does he belong with them. There is so much of family issues right there. The nature conservation theme runs all around the movie, but is mostly lost, thanks to all the attention that is given to the colourful birds and all the thinking as well as stupidity that they perform while remaining cute. The evil of deforestation could have been given more importance, and nature had to take the centre stage like in Dr. Seuss The Lorax and Epic, but this one is clearly targeting the kids from the way in which they have treated the subject. Illegal logging has to be stopped and forests are to be conserved, but this movie doesn’t really give it more importance than the issues of a group of birds. By the way, the Shakespearean speeches are adorable.

How it finishes :: I would consider this the seventh best movie from Blue Sky Studios, after all movies of the Ice Age series, Epic and Rio. With Peanuts and Ice Age 5 coming up from the same animation film studio, we surely have a lot to expect from the same studio. For now, Rio 2 has survived and is still going strong enough even at this part of the world where the regional movies have captured most of the multiplex screens. With the Hindi 2 States and the Malayalam 1 By Two released this weekend, Rio 2 is still attracting the family audiences, and there lies its strength. The kids simply can’t resist these birds, and neither can the parents who find it a safe choice to watch with their little ones. Tarzan also had the India release here, but seems to lag. We can talk about innovations and new ideas all day, but this movie will surely continue to do well with the same idea so many movies have used and its own predecessor further adjusted. Even I didn’t want to miss this movie and after delaying the procedure of watching it for a week and rushed for it. Now the next challenge is Transcendence, and its critical opinion seems to drive people off.

Happy Easter! 🙂

Release date: 11th April 2014
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Starring (voice): Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, William Adams, Rodrigo Santoro, Jake T. Austin, Tracy Morgan, Bebel Gilberto, Andy García, Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, Pierce Gagnon, Natalie Morales, Janelle Monáe, Philip Lawrence, Miguel Ferrer, Jeffrey Garcia, Kate Micucci, Randy Thom

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Polytechnic

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Vishu’s last comrade :: In the beginning, there were four Malayalam movies for the festival of Vishu, and this is the last one that list, as the least hyped, but I have found this one the second most interesting after 7th Day. But before I get into it, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Suraj Venjaramoodu on winning the National Award for the Best Actor for his performance in Perariyathavar along with everyone behind the same movie. As everyone considered him to be someone inside a particular genre, there might not be many people from Kerala who expected the same. What makes me most happy is the selection of North 24 Kaatham as the best Malayalam movie, as unlike what some people said about it, I have always thought it was a wonderful movie and needed to gain a lot more attention, even as it did do quite well. Now with the award won, not many can reject the claim of awesomeness about that movie. So there is something from a long time Malayalam movie fan, and back to what I have been doing, and the road diverge into that fourth Vishu Malayalam movie which I watched, Polytechnic.

What is it about? :: Poly (Kunchako Boban) is the son of a soldier and a homemaker. He is a member of the local leftist party and is filled with socialist ideas and a desire to eliminate corruption from his village, thus not doing any job and not contributing to the income of the household in any way other than eating quite a lot. He is usually locked in fights against the Panchayat president and the local leader of the opposite party, Sukumaran Nair (Vijayaraghavan), but is in love with the daughter of the same man, Aswathy (Bhavana) whom he has liked since childhood. As Poly gets more and more involved with the events in the village, he has to face more problems. But the big problem comes when his father dies in a terrorist attack, and is left with the duty to take care of the household. With the money that they get after the death of his father, Poly starts a new business with the help of his friend Backer (Aju Varghese) and the blessings of their local leader. But soon he realizes that it is difficult to run an industry like it is easy to close one. He finds out that one can’t run a business in the right way, but decides to go against all odds and make sure that his venture turns successful.

The defence of Polytechnic :: Sometimes spelled as Pauly Technic at many places, Polytechnic is all about the technic the protagonist Poly uses to get his thing done. May be it is more about the protagonist being Poly or Pauly rather than anything else. The first half is more political and surely the funnier one, as it reminds one more of Oru Indian Pranayakatha‘s first half as it moves on to being somewhat the Punyalan Agarbathis as the first half gets closer to the interval and the whole second half. But the movie does maintain its own identity, thanks to all the funny dialogues and incidents as well as the total village set up. The message to fight corruption runs throughout the movie. There is a heavy dose of corruption incidents in the movie, and it keeps telling the viewers about the need to fight the same, and it is in the hands of the youth to do so. The movie has a lot of funny moments, and never does it cross the border of decency, something which has been difficult for Malayalam movies with the new generation movies all around. It makes sure that the movie is suitable for the families.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t have a wikipedia page. There are not many movies which doesn’t have one, and that is disappointing as such a page is necessary for any average movie which hits the theatre, and often the worst Malayalam movies have one. I would consider such a situation a serious threat to the movie’s promotions, just like not having a facebook page. The movie’s take on politics and corruption is half-baked. The whole thing becomes a fight only in the end, and the climax is rather too ineffective and forced. As this movie is more or less like last year’s Jayasuriya starrer Punyalan Agarbathis, the same trend seems to continue – the protagonist tries to start a business which has almost everything going against it, including the laws, officials, fate and those people who don’t like him. There is also the heroine giving full support as well as a friend who is always with him (both times played by Aju Varghese). The protagonist’s techniques are rather weak and none of them should actually impress the audience as the “great poly technic”. There it goes slow and pretty much predictable.

Performers of the Soul :: Kunchako Boban once again excels in a character with all the qualities necessary for the same. Remember Elsamma Enna Aankutty and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, but here he has a character with more heroism, and he performs here with the same ease. He has fit into the role of the simple and ordinary man well. Bhavana seems to have got slimmer, and shines in a role in which most of the other Malayalam actresses haven’t really played to a good effect – a police officer and a lover who struggles to keep both roles afloat, caught between her lover and her father. She successfully portrays and remains true to that character. Vijayaraghavan and Aju Varghese heavily contributes to the funny side, and the latter has a role which is similar to what he did in Punyalan Agarbathis, and has made it better. These two are also seen in the other Vishu movie, Ring Master, the same is the case of Suraj Venjaramood who contributes in his usual manner. Kochu Preman is there to add a little more to the same. Hareesh Peradi remains strong and has yet another powerful role to essay. Innocent has a guest role in the end.

Soul exploration :: The feel-good movies are mostly for the soul, but this is actually less for the same. The message for the youth to fight against corruption is the one thing that stands alone, and the light shades make sure that the situation is enjoyable rather than frowned upon; but there are the moments which make one feel that its not that light a movie, especially when the protagonist’s struggles get too much and lands him in jail as well as ruins his reputation. There was the need for a stronger script and a better twist in the end to make sure that it works better rather than sticking to that feel-good thingy like a glue. It seems to have clinched on the simplicity, but there is still the twist, and the with its occasional drags and predictability, the movie is kind of confused at its soul, and the fact that they have somewhat managed to pull it off is a nice thing. Its attempt is on a message against what may be the biggest social evil in the nation, and that is well done as an attempt. There is also the reminder of Dakshayani Biscuits, the factory from Mohanlal’s old classic movie, Midhunam.

How it finishes :: The two things that would attract the audience should be that Bhavana is back, that too with Kunchako Boban a long time after Doctor Love, for the first time in a police role; and that Kunchako Boban is back in his second most comfortable territory, the family comedy entertainer (the first one being the usual romantic stuff). Polytechnic doesn’t seem to be ready to finish strong during this festival-vacation season. I wonder how much better it would have been if it had released before Punyalan Agarbathis. But this is still a season of big holidays, and as nothing other than 7th Day has successfully attracted enough audience, this might still hold on like Count Dracula to his coffin. To prepare for the same, lets keep the expectations low and take the opportunity, and be prepared for another addition of a feel-good movie to the long list of such movies which never cease coming as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned.. I might be back only after Maundy Thursday and Good Friday or possibly only after Easter, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday, and may there be blessings in abundance on the day, plus belated Vishu greetings.

Release date: 11th April 2014
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: M. Padmakumar
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Bhavana, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramood , Tesni Khan, Devi Chandana, Vishnu Prabha, Hareesh Peradi, Kochu Preman, Ambika, Innocent

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Divergent

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Dystopia, the weakness :: The more relevant opinions should say that the weakness that haunts the world is more related to vampire romance, something which completely destroys the purpose of existence of vampires, no wonder Louis de Pointe du Lac felt that his life was pointless, and Anne Rice might have had a good idea what was to come next when she sat down to write Interview With the Vampire and all those works which followed in The Vampire Chronicles. Now, dystopia has risen to a level which is close to the vampire romance, and thanks to The Hunger Games, the scope for such fiction is proved immense; one has to agree that even Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and its movie adaptation had an extended feeling of dystopia enforced by the aliens. My first idea of dystopia came from Stephen King’s The Running Man which I read long ago, and that 1987 movie of the same name, Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso. A dystopian America sells quite well. Even mindless movies like Escape from New York worked very well (questioned only by its own sequel Escape from L.A.) and now we know what a safe territory is, even safer than some vampire romance which can coin the terms like “still a better love story than Twilight“.

What is it about? :: The story is set in a future Chicago as the world has transformed into a dystopia inside walls. The society has been divided into five factions with five different qualities, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were to live a hopeless life. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) has grown up in Abnegation with her parents and brother, and it was the faction that run the government. Its selflessness was proven by their work in taking care of the poor, the sick and the factionless. To the surprise and sadness of their parents, her brother chooses Erudite and she chooses Dauntless, even as she does know that she is a “divergent” who has different qualities and such a person is considered a threat to the current social order in the dystopia. Christina (Zoë Kravitz) and Al (Christian Madsen), two former Candors, and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), a former Erudite joins her friends group as she struggles to go on with an environment with which she is not familiar. She starts off at the bottom of the list threatened to be thrown out, but slowly begins to make her way up with the help of the instructor Four (Theo James). Soon, there will be more secrets to be unveiled though.

The defence of Divergent :: Another world awaits you in Divergent, a world which you are not unaware of, but it is still a world which you will enjoy once again – it is that kind of a world which gathers a dimension for just curiosity itself and thrives on it like Count Dracula on drop of blood. In the beginning itself, they show a huge fence, seemingly electrical along with skyscrapers which seems to have survived some Armageddon which ravished a lot of the known world. Its themes are many and its world nicely detailed with some nice effects added here and there. The post-apocalyptic city is really nice, with a train running through the centre and buildings connected with some kind of mechanical technology. The action sequences are nice and realistic, and the final combat scenes are well done. There is melee combat as well as shooting, and a lot more during the time of training for the fearless ones. The idea of the divergent among the factions is nicely developed out of something which we are all familiar with – the rebellion in the dystopia. The leap of faith moment and the initiation in style are two things I loved more than the rest.

The claws of flaw :: This movie is quite a lot like The Hunger Games, and explores a similar setting with a dystopia and training of young people to be capable for violence and if possible, inflict death upon the enemies. There is no deathmatch here, but there is that capture the flag (Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena fans check!). Being alienated is becoming far too common a thing these days as corruption in politics, the worst of such thing inflicted upon us by Kristen Stewart’s Isabella Swann. The movie’s faction choosing ceremony reminds us of the four houses of Harry Potter, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff. Remember the choosing of jobs in City of Ember? That should be another memory slowly coming out forced by the incident. The movie could have tried something innovative to have its own identity which would look entirely different from the rest. But taking the safe path was going to be more suitable for the first movie of a possible trilogy with a possible extensions due to divisions. But one can be sure that all the flaws of the whole franchise might be lesser than those from just one half of any movie of the Twilight series, especially the latter ones. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones did come with more flaws, but that was pure nonsense.

Performers of the Soul :: There was the awesome Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, and one might not be able to place anyone else in her place with a similar setting around. But Shailene Woodley is very close, and she is so good as the character that one feels almost of the same feeling for Beatrice Prior that was felt for Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire. Shailene has almost everything that the Twilight heroine lacked, and she makes sure that Beatrice is never out of control. She fits into that world right from the beginning and gives us one of the best female protagonists in a dystopia. She has great moments and wonderful lines in a movie which depends so much on her performance and she delivers. She is not just the cute face right there. It is sad that Kate Winslet had so less to do in a role which was about being a mastermind villain from the faction of intelligence. The same can be said about Maggie Q who is just there to be there! Ashley Judd’s existence itself is her presence in the movie. Theo James does his role nicely, and finishes strong as the trainer and the lover. I will leave special mention for Zoë Kravitz as Christina who looked and acted wonderfully throughout the movie.

Soul exploration :: The movie has a lot of themes being explored in it, both directly and indirectly in its world. The whole division into four factions according their qualities and job is more like the ancient caste system itself, but lets not go further into that. In the case of factions, there are people who think different and has the ability to go against this order which forms the core of this dystopia – they are the divergents, to be better known as the rebels. As such a world is lead by the sympathetic faction, one can only wonder how long before two others, the brains and the muscle power can take over. So we need the divergents. What about our current society? Don’t we need them as a dystopia always threaten to happen in one place or the other? Haven’t such “different” people contributed a lot more to the world than the normal ones? When I was in school, I was to expect to join one of the two factions, engineering and medicine, with the two hidden faction, commerce and management – where did I join? Well, I had to diverge, and that had to be dauntless. That was just an example, but lets choose to be different rather than fit into groups with difficulty. Lets just not take the violence in the movie with it.

How it finishes :: Based on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, the movie present us with another dystopian world to ponder over. Even as I haven’t read any work by her, this does seem to work quite well. Being the opposite of utopia, dystopia always had the power to keep the readers and viewers interested. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin told us the story of a world which is slave to logic and machines, completely against any kind of creativity. George Orwell gave us more in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World might be the title which comes to the mind of most people. Remember Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange too. There are lots of such novels which has explored the themes related to dystopia in a powerful way. Divergent takes a leap into the same, but not exactly in the same way. I don’t know about the book, but the movie does fine as it throws at the audience everything it got. The visual media has been nicely used for the same purpose. It released here late, and as this is a festival season full of regional movies, the movie won’t do that well here, and the shows are limited too – quite the bad time of the year to release this one here!

PS: Don’t read the name as “Detergent” because one of my friends did! 😀

Release date: 11th April 2014 (India); 21st March 2014 (US)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

7th Day

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The 7th Day significance :: A name which signifies a special day and the tagline which supports the same “The seventh day on which God rested after creating the world in six days”, this was always going to be a different experience. God didn’t need to rest, but he rested on the seventh day which became the Shabbat of Jews, and it is up-to this movie’s release to see how all that would relate to a thriller movie such as this (but it turns out that I thought too much about it). Prithviraj Sukumaran himself says that there has not been any other movie which he has been involved this much, and that only reason that there is no trailer for this movie (there is only the teaser) is because he doesn’t want anyone to have a prior idea or design about this movie which is going to be innovative in many ways. Read more about the same from his official page on Facebook. For anyone who have watched and liked either Mumbai Police or Memories starring the same actor, this was going to be a must watch, and that includes me who considers the latter to be the better movie and among the best of the year. These two movie publicize this movie more than any page or advertisement that can be created – why need anything more?

What is it about? :: David Abraham I.P.S. (Prithviraj Sukumaran) accidently meets Shaan (Vinay Forrt) and Vinu (Anu Mohan) as his jeep hits their motorbike. As he comes across Shaan again and the news spread that Vinu has committed suicide, David feels that there was something strange about the whole thing, and it was evident from their talks and action last night. He goes to meet Shaan who tells him that they have been in trouble for a very long time, and were hunted by the henchmen of a strange and mostly unknown enemy known to many as Christopher Moriarty. They have been trying to run and hide from them in vain, and he was actually separated from his friends before the accident happened. His other friends, Jessy (Janani Iyer), Aby (Tovino Thomas) and Cyril (Praveen Prem) are nowhere to be found and he suspects that they are in deep trouble or possibly dead. David decides to help him and goes out on an investigation by himself, only to uncover strange truths about them, and come to the realization that Shaan might be the only one among the gang who is telling the actual truth. But David is not ready to lose this battle and certainly not the war. His icons are people from the history who lost, but he always plays to win; he doesn’t mind if he tries and losses.

The defence of 7th Day :: The centre of all defence of this movie stands Prithviraj Sukumaran, more powerful than ever. He has the screen presence which makes most of the other things in the movie not that significant. Whenever he is there, everything is under control, as he remains the captain throughout the journey of this ship. Other than that, movie has a nice suspense maintained throughout, and is not without thrills. There is a lot of mystery feeling that the environment of the movie gives. The feeling goes on throughout the movie, especially when our protagonist is on the investigation. The style and lighting in the movie is special, and the darkness that runs throughout the movie helps its mood a lot. There is always something about the inception and development of a dark world in a thriller movie, and this is no exception. We are given the feeling that there is always more than what meets the eye for each character, and even David Abraham himself is no exception, as we see how he changes and reacts according to the situations. There are some stylish dialogues too, some of them which can stay on our minds for at least some time.

The claws of flaw :: 7th Day is a lot like Memories and Mumbai Police, the two other police stories featuring Prithviraj. But the problem is when this one doesn’t give its protagonist to be more of a vulnerable man like in those two, and from the latter, it inherits not just the dark shades, but also the drag which turns out to be rather unfortunate. This also has an investigation going like Memories, but comes nowhere close to that movie in the script or the climax. The occasional drag is a let down, and there are times when the movie becomes less of an investigative thriller and more of a crime drama – something to be expected when the whole thing is related to policeman on suspension and a group of youngsters on the run from a web of crime lead by a ruthless guy whose last name comes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest known creation, as Professor Moriarty gives it to this one, Christopher Moriarty – I would like to think not much about it, and imagine not about them being related. The chain of events begin on Christmas, so may be they chose to have Christopher as the first name. That should have been avoided, and just another usual name could have done; for villains are not known for their names, but for their actions. Any more talk about that name shall shatter the suspense, and lets not venture more into the same.

Performers of the Soul :: Prithviraj’s real beginning with a police role picks up with Vargam, and that spark returned with Mumbai Police, which was incredibly powered with Memories – the two investigative thrillers of last year which had him in stunning performances, the second being something which was to be appreciated by everyone. He slowly moved away from that kind of police role which Suresh Gopi used to do and gain success, and he himself did with not that much appreciation. Instead, he has come up with so much variety in the same, accepted roles in which he could prove his wonderful acting skills again and again. 7th Day is no exception. From Solomon Joseph to Anthony Moses, and Sam Alex to David Abraham, the fourth memorable police role comes to light here, even as you can surely ask the question if he will come last among the four. Well, Prithviraj steals the show, and this movie is so much about his character – the best thing about the movie. The youngsters are okay with their performances, but as expected, Vinay Forrt stands out as the best of them all, followed by Tovino Thomas. Janani Iyer has the least to do among them, and Joy Mathew has a small, but good role.

Soul exploration :: Welcome to the world of another dark investigative thriller. Unlike Memories, this one leaves much less for the soul. Somehow, I was able to guess the villain as well as the main culprit in the movie, and there were two, and I guessed them both correct – that should have just an incident by accident, and you should give it a try guessing. I was also able to bring up the final twist correctly, something which was rather impossible with Memories and slightly possible with Mumbai Police. The first half’s inherent slowness might have been the main thing which hurt its possibilities of being special, and the second half never really manages to make things faster. The flashback scenes were to be without Prithviraj and they also hurt the soul. It need a lot more of life, something which Mumbai Police partially provided with the negative traits of the character and Memories with the powerful presence of a psycho killer and the memories of the protagonist himself. This one doesn’t have such a boost. We expect much more, but we do not get it. But we are indeed satisfied by what we get, and coming from a debutant director, this is very good.

How it finishes :: This is a week of too many movies – the Vishu holiday which gets extended due to Dr. Amedkar Jayanthi and Sunday with just a day separating them from the Maundy Thursday. With the rush of the summer vacations from school kids and college students, there might not be any movie which can’t be a hit unless it does something really stupid. Gangster‘s inability to impress any kind of audience except for the fans and other concerned groups who say it is good for the obvious reasons, will surely help the other movies which release on the very next day a lot – 7th Day, Ring Master and Polytechnic. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier gets an extended long run, and with Divergent and Rio 2 ready, and as some other movies refuse to go way including lesser Bollywood releases, this will be a nice weekend for the three Malayalam movies which released today. The families with kids might be looking forward to Bhoothnath Returns too. The Easter week is also coming up, and with 2 States and Transcendence waiting to pounce, it is the best to make most money this week, and with some good opinions, an extended run is a certainty. Now this one has less shows, but that is expected to increase in the upcoming days. 7th Day has the upper-hand as far the opinions are concerned.

Release date: 12th April 2014
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Syam Dhar
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Janani Iyer, Vinay Forrt, Anu Mohan, Tovino Thomas, Praveen Prem, Joy Mathew, T. G. Ravi, Yog Japee

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Captain America II

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Our own superheroes :: Its been some time since the 2012 superhero movie The Avengers got so much more attention than it deserved and ended up being the highest grossing movie of the year and the third highest grossing film ever. Surprisingly, it even impressed the critics, and even as it was a well made fun ride, I wondered how it managed to do this much just by having some superheroes fighting aliens in the middle of the city. Unlike what some of the fan-boys might say, I have felt that Captain America: The First Avenger was the best superhero movie from Marvel, a title which it takes over from X2: X-Men United and to which Ghost Rider had a distant claim only to be devastated by the sequel. As Thor came so close and yet spoiled the opportunity to be the best, and so did X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I have to admit that Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier is my new favourite Marvel superhero movie, and that title should be safe unless The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes up with something too good which is rather unlikely. So this sequel is better than the original and all the other movies in the franchise – that should inspire you to read this further!

What is it about? :: Captain America a.k.a Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is called to rescue the hostages from a SHIELD ship under the control of Algerian pirates in the Indian Ocean. There he notices that the mission of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is different from that of him, and she is collecting data from the ship’s computers. After telling Steve about the secret weapon of SHIELD to destroy its enemies and a failed attempt to decrypt the data, Fury is attacked, and dies after telling Steve not to trust anyone and giving him the USB data. Hunted by the SHIELD, Captain America and Black Widow got to join forces to find information about the data and stumbles upon a supercomputer which tells them that HYDRA still exists not as itself, but within SHIELD, like a parasite, and Captain had never put an end to it during the Second World War. As they say “if a head is cut off, two more will take its place”, and this time they are choosing a different path of war. With the help of Falcon (Anthony Mackie), they have to stop HYDRA from deploying their secret weapon through SHIELD, but the question remains if they can take on the Winter Soldier, a metal armed expert fighter who is more of a ghost entity coming out of nowhere.

The defence of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier :: One of the best fights of the movie is in an elevator, and there are so many more to follow. There is Captain America taking on the advanced machines of SHIELD, and when the Winter Soldier comes up, it goes to a new level, and Black Widow joins the party at regular intervals to boost things up, and so does the new addition – Falcon. The action sequences continue to be strong, and the final battle is incredibly stylish for a movie which was turning into more of a thriller. But the movie doesn’t go on to become that action movie which is expected from any random superhero who possesses the skills that the normal human being lacks, and instead it becomes an espionage action thriller which keeps the viewers guessing, and you can see that the twists are delivered with great punch. The whole conspiracy thing is wonderfully managed, and there is a certain amount of skill involved in doing the same. The dialogues are also cleverly done, and the witty lines are sure to stay in our minds for a very long time. Well, Captain America often becomes self-defending, and you will know about it when you watch.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has turned so much into the thriller genre that the usual superhero fans might find it a little strange. Captain America has turned himself into more of a super soldier rather than a superhero, and it will please a lot as well as disappoint a few, such is this genre. But, yes he is super and there is no denying that. It has successfully become better than its predecessor too, something which only X2: X-Men United could achieve as far as Marvel is concerned. Its intelligence should upset a lot of people who are looking for mindless action too, but those who were looking for stupidity like Dhoom 3 and Krrish 3 are going to be too disappointed. Yes, bring your brains with you – don’t leave them at home like you did while watching some superstar Bollywood movies. Except for the Dark Knight series, I wonder if the viewers are ever expected to use their intellect much in a superhero movie, but now we know that superheroes have moved out of the world of children almost completely. Now they make us thinkers along with entertaining the crowd.

Performers of the Soul :: Chris Evans once again excels in the role of that superhero who is ideologically superior to any superhero of Hollywood. He has become part of the same character and most of us would tend to forget that he was once the Human Torch in Fantastic Four and its sequel – this would always be the role that he would be known for, and this movie gives him more possibilities, and he holds on and improves his performance as the super soldier. When surrounded, he asks “Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”. Scarlett Johansson remains awesome as Black Widow, and she has a great role to play in this one – she even has some nicer lines like “I only pretend that I know everything” or “Was that your first kiss since 1945?”, and its time her character gets a movie of her own, may be with Hawkeye by her side. Sebastian Stan proves to a fantastic choice for the Winter Soldier too. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome as usual, and the one thing you will know about his car after taking a lot of hits is that the only thing that is left working is the air conditioning, so says the computer. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon comes as another boost to the movie. Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter comes up in small, yet significant roles which we can hope to be developed later.

Soul exploration :: Unlike the other superheroes, Captain America is not just a superman or any similar person. He is an idea, something which is more intellectual and not physical, standing for truth, justice and honour. His battles are not against the usual villains who come to take over the world or commit crimes with superpowers or manpower, as his enemies are ideologies, of hatred, fear and slavery; it used to be HYDRA earlier and it continues to be same opponent, but with an outer layer of coating. He is also different that he has to fight war in another age along with belong to that era. Thor and Superman belonged to other worlds, but one can always go back and the other has been here since childhood. But Captain America is a man from the past, frozen both physically and mentally to awaken in another age, nothing less than an alien world. But he adapts and maintains all that he had in the 1940s. The world he comes across as an alien is the same which we have now, as we are fed with lies as truth remains hidden. Forget the wars and the media response; forget the lies concerning politicians and elections; we are told that someone lands on moon or there is water on Mars – and we are forced to believe the same or we are labelled as inferior people – nobody needs proof of that.

How it finishes :: There have been two types of superhero movies, one from The Dark Knight side and the other from The Avengers side. This movie seems to be placed right between them, and at the same time, having a life of its own. This movie has brain, and a lot of it, as it keeps itself out of both the mindless action with the light side as well as the fear generation of the dark side, keeping a bit of both, but not enough to be labelled. The result here is that the latest movie from Marvel can take on both sides, even as I doubt if it can be as successful as any of the two. Captain America is not your typical superhero, and the only thing that should work in favour of him in coming up with a great box-office should be the fact that this is vacation time, both for schools and colleges – most of them to be exact. We watched the movie with a huge crowd and that world was almost full, something which was not visible in the case of the first outing of the same hero or the random wanderings of the rusty vain man in iron. You might want to watch the first movie too so that you can enjoy this without doubts, or may be keep someone who watched it on the next seat. And you may want to choose 2D if there is that option to skip 3D!

Release date: 4th April 2014
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Hayley Atwell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.