Ex Machina

What is it about? :: Bluebook is the most popular search engine in the world, handling more than ninety percent of the internet user search. It is one of the most powerful companies in the world, and maintains a certain amount of control over the internet. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer working at the same company, wins a one-week visit to the home of the CEO of the same company. Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) lives in a secluded building surrounded by greenery, an environment providing beautiful views and assuring separation from the busy life of the cities where the search engine offices are based. The only other person at home is a maid known as Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) who doesn’t understand English and just does her job.

So what happens in this environment? :: So, this home of the CEO is actually more than what meets the eye. One would have guessed the same considering the fact that he has almost no contact with anyone else. He has a secret, and the place is more of a secret research facility than a house. He has developed something which needs to be tested, and Caleb is the man to administer the test to a special humanoid robot with Artificial Intelligence. This robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) develops a good friendly relationship with Caleb, but it seems that she is a lot more than what he knows about, and there is a long history behind the robot and also beyond her. There are things that will be uncovered in the environment, but not many facts can go outside that world.

The defence of Ex Machina :: An intelligent science fiction movie takes form as Ex Machina, as it slowly, but steadily moves on to become more and more interesting, from a rather normal beginning. It has the good looks right from the beginning as the scene shifts to a world close to natural beauty. There, the insides of the home are also well done. There is elegance all around, and then we see the robot with the Artificial Intelligence and we feel that it might be the best we have seen with the design. Then, things go on to become rather tense, a feeling which comes along with the intellectual and creepy side going forward together. Sooner or later, this one asks you about whose side you are on, and most of the time when facing the question, you will have no answer; but you might not need to take sides – you can grab the messages instead. Then there is Alicia Vikander as the lady robot who will simply take your breath away with her performance; not human or robot, she is right there as the Artificial Intelligence.

Positives and negatives :: The other two main actors, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac do their job really well. In this movie, you can see no action sequences or frightening scenes on screen, making this no sc-fi action and absolutely no sci-fi horror. But it is still a thriller and a drama, filled with messages in the core. A certain slow pace in the movie never really feels as we are too much interesting in the situation that is presented in this movie; sometimes one feel that it makes us more restless and unsettled. But whichever way the movie takes the turn, it keeps working so well. It keeps us engaged in the flick, and keeps providing us with those moments to memorize and think about. The twists in this movie are not heavily presented, but they are all result of some very clever work. As it moves towards a more haunting side, you will feel that this might be the best science fiction movie made without much of a heavy budget.

Soul exploration :: There are many messages in Ex Machina, and they can affect different people in different ways. Most of us are familiar about the Latin term “Deus ex machina” which means “god from the machine”. As I missed that during a literary quiz programme and this one will stay on my mind forever. It refers to a plot device by which a seemingly insolvable problem is solved all of a sudden by an unexpected thing – it is often a rather convenient method. Here, the title should mean “from the machine”. The movie deals with the insides of a machine here, with how the Artificial Intelligence makes the change, and brings something more out of a machine than what was expected of it. The one difference here is that it is the human who plays the God.

More soul exploration :: The problem in the movie arises from the human playing the role of God. He thinks that he can be in control all the time, but he just can’t do that. There are limitations to his abilities, and there are a few people who don’t really deserve to do such things. Man is no God and with power and money corrupting the brain, morality and any compassion takes the backseat. The robot here is not just a symbol of the specific character here, but that of a lot of people in the world who have restrictions imposed on them. Only a few people get lucky, and the rest are enslaved in one way or the other. The rich and the influential ones play God while the rest are made to be obedient robots. But if there will be change, and it might all be about one moment, just like Ava’s case.

How it finishes :: Ex Machina is the directorial debut of the man who wrote screenplay for 28 Days Later, Sunshine and the cult flick and favourite 2012 action movie Dredd. Here, we are provided with more questions than ever, about where humanity begins and ends, what is consciousness and how it can be defined, the influence of technology and its control over us, the limits which should be established – and many more. It is not something which you can hope to get with this much clarity as well as simplicity from the Hollywood movies. What this movie reminds me about is the 2011 Spanish psychological thriller movie, The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito) starring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya. Ex Machina leaves one with a similar feeling; there is no visible horror and moments to make you scream, but it provides that special unsettling feeling.

Release date: 10th April 2015
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Alex Garland
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Sonoya Mizuno, Oscar Isaac, Symara A. Templeman, Elina Alminas, Gana Bayarsaikhan, Tiffany Pisani, Claire Selby, Corey Johnson


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.


Rajamma at Yahoo

RajammaatYahoo (2)

Vampire Owl :: Vampires don’t have e-mail addresses at Yahoo. We use only the official Immortal Vampire Mail which is approved by Uncle Dracula and the Great Vampire Elders.

Vampire Bat :: But the title of this movie has nothing to do with Yahoo, e-mail, ISP, internet and social media.

Vampire Owl :: There is a clear misunderstanding about this then. The title misleads.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, but the movie is now clear to be watched for the vampire community too. Everything is fine.

Vampire Owl :: But don’t you think that a better title would have done this movie more good?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, that is sure. There is no question about it, especially as there is no shortage of titles around here.

Vampire Owl :: I will try to suggest a better title after watching this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Well, I wouldn’t recommend that. The current title still bring some idea about what to expect in this movie, which is not directly related to the brain.

Vampire Owl :: In that case, I shall not attempt the renaming.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is never really going to make a difference, is it?

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Michael Rajamma (Kunchacko Boban) and Vishnu Yohannan (Asif Ali) are brothers who were born to a couple who eloped from their home after an inter-religious love affair. After the death of their parents, they decide to live in their huge house which they can’t sell due to some problems with its records. Called Rajamma and Yahoo respectively by their friends, latter has a love affair with Nessy (Anusree Nair) and former is attracted to Sherin (Nikki Galrani) who is one of the many tenants to whom parts of the big house are given on rent. After becoming good friends with the village officer Pavthiran (Kalabhavan Shajon) and his family to whom another part of the place is rented, the two decide to solve a problem faced by Sherin, and that brings the antagonist Abraham Pothen (Renji Panicker) to the scene and a few things from the past.

The defence of Rajamma at Yahoo :: The moments of fun are surely there in this movie, and they start very early. You can clearly hear the laughter in the theatre and people do find this one enjoyable with its good comic side. The first half does provide the scope to let this one go on as the full comedy entertainer, and even though the completeness is never achieved, Rajamma at Yahoo has memorable jokes. The characters on good side are likable except for the role played by the main heroine. There is also some feel-good related to this movie, even though the portrayal of the same brings certain trouble, and couldn’t tally with the rest of the movie as the mixture struggles to be better. There main lead makes sure that there is always something throughout the movie.

Claws of flaw :: After wasting the opportunity to be a full comedy entertainer or at least a part feel-good movie, this one has struggles which go on to bring a climax will be in no way acceptable to most of the audience. It is as if it is just imposed on this movie without much thinking. One would also wonder if people haven’t had enough of making sculptures of their parents, and how it is considered a noble deed – ask Utopiyayile Raajavu. The movie could have at least known its strengths, which it shows at times and then losses them. This could have been a lot better if the story was more interesting; the dependence on the stereotyped situation of the heroine also works against the movie. Some of the jokes are also not working. Something better was needed in the script, but unfortunately, that is not there. The romance is also half-baked.

Performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban and Asif Ali manage their roles in this movie very nicely. They do make a good team, and everything is effectively handled together. There is nothing heavy here though. It does make one wonder what these two could have achieved with more funny situations and a better story brought to them. I would like to see them together in another story where there are more opportunities. The latter was also too unlucky earlier with Kohinoor and Nirnaayakam. With the comic side, Kalabhavan Shajon scores the highest as the village officer, and the others follow his lead. It was also good to see Sneha Sreekumar of the Marimayam fame in this movie, and she did well. Among the heroines, Anusree makes better impact. She has handled the comic side very well too.

Further performers of the soul :: Nikki Galrani arrives on screen as the movie reaches the one hour mark, and she is there with the looks and not that much with the performance. There is no doubt that she looks really good here. Then there is not much there for her, as she becomes the love interest as well as the one who causes the turn of events without talking much. It is still a lot better than what was seen from her in Rudrasimhasanam. Renji Panicker has a strange character here which makes the antagonist weaker and part-time. He is very good for most of the time, but the characterization gets into the way. Noby Markose of Vodafone Comedy Stars fame is also there after Life of Josutty, and in the smaller role, he brings some nice laughs. Kailash also provides good support in the flick.

How it finishes :: The chance to rule the weekend is not there for Rajamma at Yahoo as the opportunity is spoiled and the movie doesn’t rise up-to the expectations. As they tell a fun story, one has to wonder why it couldn’t have been the same throughout its run-time. Better songs, background music, editing and all could have provided this movie with more strength, but they didn’t. With lesser challenge this week as only Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam remains the one notable Malayalam release, our movie here will still do good enough. The fun moments will make sure that there are no boredom or lag, as Rajamma at Yahoo can attract those who are looking for some simple mindless fun for the weekend. You will enjoy the movie in parts as long as you don’t think too much about it.

Release date: 20th November 2015
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Reghurama Varma
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Nikki Galrani, Anusree Nair, Kalabhavan Shajon, Renji Panicker, Kailash, Noby Markose, Vijayakumar, Sneha Sreekumar, Sethulakshmi, Mamukkoya, Muthumani


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam

SuSuSudhiVathmeekam (4)

What is it about? :: Sudhi (Jayasurya) works as the manager at one of the branches of Karur Vysya Bank at Bangalore. One day, after helping a group of cinema artists to shoot inside his branch, he gets a ride to his hometown with Mukesh (Mukesh), thanks to his old friend Greygon Das (Aju Varghese) who is in the film field. Sudhi talks to him about his life and the interesting incidents related to it. He is a person who has always had a terrible stammering problem. It had alienated him and affected his confidence ever since he was a child. Even when he reaches his youth, he remains a troubled man due to the same. The same disability leads to his engagement being called off, and the people of the village make fun of him even more. But as time progresses, he will manage to rise above his problems and understand that he is better than his troubles.

The defence of Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam :: If you loved Punyalan Agarbathis, you will surely love this one too; I would consider this one above that flick because our movie here finishes very nicely in a much better way. The feel-good factor is much stronger here because this is more of the common man’s movie. There will be moments when you will feel that this is the story of you or someone you know in a different way. The message is also very clear here, and it will connect with the common man. The fact that the movie is short helps the cause; there is no drag here either. The second half is also better than the first, the movie only improving as it progresses. The emotional side is working all the time and gets stronger in the latter parts. The humour is good when it is present. The songs are okay. It is simple, cute and the right choice for the families.

Claws of flaw :: There is no special ingredient in Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Well, Kung Fu Panda knew that there was no secret ingredient, and this movie also works without the same. There is nothing special with the story as the flick thrives on simplicity and reflecting the common man’s life. More humour could have also been added here too, and more material in the first half. People can also complain about the troubles of the man and his setting to be better shown in another way, asking for more fun or more emotions, but this one takes the middle path. The Punyalan Agarbathis feeling is also there even as this one overtakes that movie in content and presentation. Like what a few people who said about Mili, if you consider the goodness and inspirational stuff as cliche, this won’t be the movie for you; but I believe that they can be infinitely disparate each and every time.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya brings a stunning performance here proving his versatility once again. This movie is all about his character and he makes it all about him. The success of this movie will undoubtedly be his success as he thrives, and lives as the protagonist. Whichever be the movie, he has always been there with some exceptional performance – you can do a rewind into his previous movies and clarify the same. With three stages of the protagonist’s life being shown on screen, the man comes in three appearances, clean shaved, with a moustache and with the beard. Like in Premam, this also shows the man in different appearances as the character’s attitude towards others as well as life as a whole changes. This will be his second movie to run with positive opinions at the same time, along with Amar Akbar Anthony.

Further performers of the soul :: You can note that the director Ranjith Sankar has a cameo role in this one. The two heroines in this movie are not that familiar for the Malayalam audience even though only one is the new face. Swathi plays the protagonist’s fiancee whom he was supposed to marry, and the one person to whom he feels really close. If you watch Comedy Super Nite on Flowers channel, you might have noticed her as she was there in one of the episodes. She makes a nice debut as she entered the industry, and there is a certain amount of cuteness right there. The other heroine, Shivada has more to do, and she also has the more inspirational stuff as the speech therapist. She also comes up with a fine performance as the difference maker. Aju Varghese contributes well to the comic side, and Mukesh brings more laughs. Mukesh as Mukesh was actually a very nice move!

Soul exploration :: Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam inspires you, but it doesn’t ask you to become someone else. The soul of this movie asks you to listen to your own heart and soul rather than the others and society who bring a label for you. The protagonist himself says that everyone is not supposed to become Sachin Tendulkar or Aamir Khan. It is all about us being ourselves, not doing comparisons with others. The movie tells us to be just us, but always to be the best of us, as not to have tried is a terrible thing. If we are not ready to be us, with all the characteristics that belong to us, then what is our significance as individuals? As separate individuals facing different situations, having varying abilities, it is all about making the best use of the talents. This movie is also supposed to be inspired on the real life story of a person. You were inspired by Rani Padmini a few days earlier, and now here is more.

How it finishes :: Don’t expect something huge with a big dose of tings, but as the simple and powerful movie of the weekend, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam will provide you with the motivation that is not restricted in any way. It is a path for you to travel in discovering your individuality, and at the same time, realize that everyone is awesome, no matter what disability or trouble is present. Coming from the director who started with Passenger and gave us some really inspiring movies, this one also leaves a mark, and Ranjith Sankar has left the audience with some happiness while touching the emotional side. If you leave the theatre with some positive energy inside, it is the success of the team which brought you Punyalan Agarbathis once again. Once again, you are reminded of what you can do, and why you are also someone who can achieve. You look for goodness and inspiration; you find Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam.

Release date: 20th November 2015
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Swathi Narayanan, Shivada Nair, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Sunil Sukhada, TG Ravi, KPAC Lalitha, Ranjith Sankar, Muthumani, Sarath Das, Irshad


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Angel of Death

Womaninblack2 (2)

Vampire Owl :: Uncle Dracula was very much shocked that we missed Hotel Transylvania 2. The Vampire Panda had told me that he was on leave from the vampire throne for too many days.

Vampire Bat :: Which is why we are bringing this older horror movie right up.

Vampire Owl :: If this Woman in Black is the Angel of Death, why don’t we just call her by that name itself? Why were we not talking much about her?

Vampire Bat :: Well, there are other angels of death who might decide to protest if we do that. After all, each creature has rights.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, but still at this moment, this is the Angel of Death.

Vampire Bat :: We should publish a notice about the usage if we are to do it widely. But it should be okay for now.

Vampire Owl :: Do you know that Sinister 2 might never really release here?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, disappointing. Even Dark Places didn’t arrive.

Vampire Owl :: This is why world needs the Angel of Death.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, even the Angel of Half-death will do.

[Grabs a cup of tea with chocolate chips biscuits].

What is it about? :: A long time has passed since the events of the first movie. The time shifts to the season of death and devastation, during the Second World War. The Blitz was happening at London as Nazi Germany was showering bombs on the United Kingdom. With death wandering over their heads on planes, Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox), a deputy headmistress along with the children of the school and the headmistress, Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory), leaves towards the small town of Crythin Giffor which was to be a safe place away from the bomber planes targeting cities. They reach a mansion which is abandoned and surrounded by no signs of human existence. Then you have to wonder if this new place away from civilization is really safe.

The defence of The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death :: The movie nicely begins and has a dark and depressing atmosphere until the first moment of horror occurs with twenty minutes being over. There are some very nice dark sequences in this movie which bring us the elements of horror very well; the terror exists all the time here, not just when there is the direct attempt to scare the viewers. There is always something waiting to happen, and you can feel that. The movie is also sad, and it is something that will haunt you more than the horror which you expect to be there. It can also be considered as a strong drama, with emotions running high. There is a message here, and it is of death, which is brought about by none other than the actions of humans themselves.

Claws of flaw :: You will feel that The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is a lot like its predecessor, rather too much of that kind. The darkness is also used a lot to the inconvenience of some people. This one is also slower if we consider the pace that is expected from a movie of this genre. Talking more about the genre, this is not completely horror either, which will make some fans wonder where exactly their horror movie deviated from the cause. It could have surely used better appearances of the Woman in Black to make the desired impact for the hardcore horror fans. Even though the predecessor was a rather unknown movie at this part of the world, the second one surely had better attention, and so the viewers did deserve more from this as far as the genre is considered.

Performers of the soul :: Phoebe Fox is the protagonist here for the year 1941, replacing Daniel Radcliffe who was there during the Edwardian-era. There is torment and so much sadness which is reflected on her face, making Phoebe a nice choice for this particular character with a troubled past which the woman of the other world needs to exploit and use to her advantage. She surely has her exceptional moments in this one. Jeremy Irvine makes a nice appearance in the flick, and he does the job of another person with past troubles very well. They do make a fine pair together in the movie. Meanwhile, Oaklee Pendergast does a fine job as the kid in distress. Helen McCrory also does some good work. Even then, the atmosphere remains the grand performer.

Soul exploration :: It is no surprise that the title Angel of Death works at a time when the Second World War was at its peak. With chaos and destruction all around, one has to wonder what kind of death humans have brought upon their own kind. The humans themselves are the angels of death due to the never-ending desire for more. In the current world, where intolerance has risen to a new level, may be there are too many angels of death waiting to rise. It is by selflessness and sacrifice that the acts of hatred for the other can be averted. The message of forgiveness is the one thing which is needed more than any other. There is death awaiting each and everyone in this movie, in one way or the other, by war or by supernatural ways, but it is not the certain end.

How it finishes :: The sequel to The Woman in Black is no Crimson Peak, even though the frightening elements which are delivered comes directly out of the supernatural. You can actually watch this one without trying the original. The creepiness of the atmosphere once again helps this one to become an interesting experience as long as you don’t keep asking for more of the usual kind of horror. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is that kind of a movie which is more horror for the soul than for the brain. The idea to put this story to the Second World War setting was the right one, and even though this is not for everyone, a lot of people are sure to like this one depending on their priorities and their admiration for the different kind of horror. You might have to watch this one to be sure.

Release date: 2nd January 2015
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Tom Harper
Starring: Phoebe Fox, Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Adrian Rawlins, Leanne Best, Ned Dennehy, Oaklee Pendergast, Jude Wright, Amelia Pidgeon, Casper Allpress, Amelia Crouch, Leilah de Meza, Pip Pearce, Alfie Simmons, Eve Pearce


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.


anarkaliii (2)

What is it about? :: Shanthanu (Prithviraj Sukumaran) who arrives at Lakshadweep Islands as a diving instructor actually has another plan in his mind. His old friend Zachariya (Biju Menon) is already on the island and they are joined by Koya (Suresh Krishna) to whom they tell that love story which goes back by many years. The tale is about a girl named Nadira (Priyal Gor) and her love with Shanthanu before being separated by her father. Far away from her, and with no idea where the girl is, Shanthanu hopes to find her through her brother who is an officer at the Naval base at Kavaratti, the capital of Lakshadweep. With her rich and influential father standing on the way, and very less chances to find his lady love, Shanthanu knows that he will need all the help that he can get.

The defence of Anarkali :: The success of Anarkali lies in being direct and not taking the easy way out like many other movies. It is a believable love story with strong presence of the “true love” elements and along with maintaining that status, goes beyond states and languages. The comic sequences are very nicely done, and Biju Menon with his amazing comic timing, makes sure that the funny side is perfect. The visuals are amazing, and if you look deeper into this movie, there are similarities with Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal and there is an abiding sad mood of “impossible hope” throughout the movie which reminds one of Prithviraj’s another flick, London Bridge. But Anarkali manages to soar ahead of all these movies. The visuals here might be the best you can have from an island location and the songs are good. The emotions are strong throughout this movie.

Claws of flaw :: A disadvantage of the movie is its length, even though there is no feeling of drag anywhere – that is quite an achievement for the people behind the flick. The movie’s love story is still cliched up-to an extent with the hero and heroine waiting for the approval of the girl’s father, and making that one last effort defying all odds. It could have also used Sufism more. There is also a little bit of Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal here, but Anarkali does manage to rise above that by being an entertainer and a full love story for all kinds of audience. But aren’t these things which can be forgiven in the case of a true romantic story? There is no romance without cliche, and with a lot of other aspects staying away from the cliches, Anarkali is not going to be just another love story, because it is better! You really don’t need to judge this movie based on the opinions of the others, because this one is for the heart and that changes according to individual.

Performers of the soul :: You see another chance for Prithviraj Sukumaran here, and he has once again provided an amazing performance to make sure that this one will work well along with his other movies in the theatre, Ennu Ninte Moideen and Amar Akbar Anthony. There is a lot of energy from him here, and he has also kept this character close to our hearts. Intensity and tranquility are just two sides of this character, and with Prithviraj’s exceptional skills, reaches the audience really well. Biju Menon is there in the supporting role after playing the lead in Salt Mango Tree, and he has managed to give the right amount of the same; most of the funny side of the movie is handled by him, and you will surely love his character. He brings so many of those memorable comic situations in this one. Meanwhile, Renji Panicker and Major Ravi has notable cameo roles.

Further Performers of the soul :: Coming to the heroines, even though only one fits the exact definition, there are two others who share some nice screen presence. Priyal Gor might be the cutest heroine ever to step into the Malayalam movie industry. Another positive thing is that she could bring the emotions to the scene very well. Meanwhile, Miya George has a strong character to perform here and she manages that very well; she is also the first to arrive on screen. Samskruthy Shenoy who plays the third significant female character brings her best performance here – the abiding sadness of her character is elegantly reflected on her face. The Kerala State Film Award Winner of this year, Sudev Nair does a very nice job. Kabir Bedi is very strong in his role, Suresh Krishna brings a notable performance. As Prithviraj scores his hat-trick success, there nothing negative in the cast.

Soul exploration :: Once again, the symbol of true love is “waiting” – there is something about the romance here. The two lovers are radically determined in this movie, as the sea becomes the metaphor for the distance between them and it is the final obstacle for them just like the girl’s father was the metaphor for the same earlier. As the ocean kept them away, it is the island of loneliness to which the protagonist was restricted to, and it has a form when he reaches Lakshadweep. The sea and the girl’s father are his obstacles among which only one needs to be conquered at a time, and as true love is not without troubles, he goes through them, but not without risking his own life and earning a name on the pages inside the chronicles where the saga of sacrifice is written. True love is near impossible because it demands a lot, and our protagonist runs right through, as the emotional side remains strong.

How it finishes :: Anarkali is above Amar Akbar Anthony and Ennu Ninte Moideen both in content and presentation; the feel-good factor also comes as a nice advantage. Rising above the latter as well as Premam, this is undoubtedly the best romantic story which has released for quite some time. If you don’t blindly adore these three movies, you can easily fall in love with Anarkali, because it is made clear in the beginning itself that nothing other than true love awaits in the flick. There is no need to go for the general opinion in this case because a lot of people are still lost in the other movies from Prithviraj and might find it not that easy to digest a movie which has a better philosophical side. If you place these four movies and think neutrally without consulting anyone else, you will know, and in the end, you will re-assert the fact that true love is beyond all barriers and that there is the need to visit the beautiful Lakshadweep Islands.

Release date: 13th November 2015
Running time: 168 minutes
Directed by: Sachy
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Miya George, Priyal Gor, Biju Menon, Samskruthy Shenoy, Kabir Bedi, Sudev Nair, Suresh Krishna, Rajeev Menon, Major Ravi, Assim Jamal, Renji Panicker, Madhupal, Shyamaprasad.


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Salt Mango Tree

saltmangotree (5)

Vampire Owl :: You had talked about a movie with this kind of a combination.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, about that popular funny dialogue from Mohanlal in the movie Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam.

Vampire Owl :: I remember the comedy scenes. Memories come back to me from the hidden spaces of immortality. I hope none of them stay to haunt me forever.

Vampire Bat :: It had also won the National Film Award that year for Best Film on Other Social Issues.

Vampire Owl :: I need to watch that one again.

Vampire Bat :: You should. It should be the best movie with a satirical side from Sibi Malayil.

Vampire Owl :: What about this movie and the possible relation to that flick from the eighties?

Vampire Bat :: The educational system seems to be related, and there are kids, teachers and parents as it seems.

Vampire Owl :: And why did we choose this one over Hotel Transylvania 2?

Vampire Bat :: Well, Biju Menon might create another Vellimoonga here; so this might be the nice and interesting choice! There is also a chance that we might find the animated movie sequel offensive to vampire-kind.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Aravindan (Biju Menon) runs a medical shop in the city while his wife Priya (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) is working as an accountant. The only thing which they think about is to get their son Ashwin (Master Varkichan) admission in one of the best schools in the city. As the two become more and more obsessed with this, they arrange English tuition for the boy, try to ask everyone if there is any chance for the admission one way or the other, and even try to change themselves to become the modern parents. The Malayalam medium or state syllabus doesn’t seem to work for them, but a person named Kumaran (Sunil Sukhada) promises to try to help them. With the admission for only one of those big schools in the city left, can they finally do this?

The defence of Salt Mango Tree :: There are three things that this movie does have, and they are the comedy, messages and the feel-good factor in the end – even with not that much of an effective presence as expected, they are all present. We can say that it is a good attempt at dealing with the modern Malayali aversion for Malayalam, considering it not useful at a time when English and Hindi are running strong outside the state; this love for mother tongue and the message that good score in examinations won’t make one a better person is fine. The fact that nobody becomes a better person by speaking English in style or with fluency, and studying at a school which takes more fees doesn’t make a child something more, is the right message. There are some nice jokes in this movie too, and Biju Menon’s skills once again elevate them to a higher level. The movie is also short in length, and that is also good.

Claws of flaw :: There is nothing that deep in Salt Mango Tree, and its elements are not used to its best advantage. The feel-good factor is just too late to arrive, and a lot of incidents are overdone instead of keeping things realistic. There are parts of the story which were kept believable and without being preachy. The message also struggles to become the moral which it could have been. The songs are not that much making an impact, but can work depending on individual tastes, while the scenes in the village are just half-baked, and so is the attempt at the career guidance school. The story could have focused on its core, and should have brought the significance of learning one’s mother tongue, as well as letting the children following their dreams as a step by step procedure, but this one doesn’t. Even the title itself is not explored as it should have been!

Performers of the soul :: You know the person to look out for! Biju Menon has been the one cool actor whose movies are loved by the people without giving him that superstar status; it is more of the love for simple and funny moments from him which are so much memorable, and he is also one actor who never disappoints within his fortress of simple and family-based entertainment. In his most recent performances, whether it was about providing support in Madhura Naranga and Bhaiyya Bhaiyya, bringing the best of a cameo performance in Kunjiramayanam or leading the way in Vellimoonga, he was right there, strong in the comic side in all these flicks which came right before Salt Mango Tree. In this movie too, things are not much different as he manages the character with ease, and connects to the audience.

Further Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon is undoubtedly the man who saves this movie from going low, as he is in charge of all those dialogues for which the audience provided claps; he often lifts the movie out of nowhere when it gets close to spoiling its main idea with the weak story-line; this is still quite a step down from Vellimoonga for him. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli was last seen in the Malayalam movie industry in Angels with Indrajith Sukumaran; even though she was paired with him, she was not really the leading lady on screen. She has managed her first leading role in Malayalam very well and has excelled in the emotional sequences. The rest of the cast lead by the one who played the character of assistant in the medical shop are all good, including the child actor Master Varkichan and Suhasini who comes late and makes an impact in the climax. But most of the situations focus on to our two leading characters, and the rest has less to do. Maybe a better story could have widened the focus, but the cast manages to be good.

How it finishes :: The attempt here might have been to create another comedy flick with satirical elements as we had earlier seen in the big solo hit featuring Biju Menon, Vellimoonga. Salt Mango Tree does try and only somewhat reach there. Just somewhere there in its own field, Salt Mango Tree achieves what the other movie of a similar theme Jilebi completely failed to do; to be funny with the message even though everything not coming together reaching the expectations. Taking the title from the literal translation of the food “Uppumavu” which was used by Mohanlal in the 1986 movie Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam, the movie should work in a weekend which has less to offer otherwise. Do not expect another Vellimoonga and things should be just okay.

Release date: 6th November 2015
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Rajesh Nair
Starring: Biju Menon, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Master Varkichan, Suhasini Manirathnam, Indrans, Saiju Kurup, Sarayu, Sunil Sukhada, Sudheer Karamana, Pradeep Kottayam, Paris Laxmi


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.


goosebumps (3)

Vampire Owl: Movie adaptation of children’s horror fiction? What is this? We are the ones who are supposed to scare the children, not some random novels.

Vampire Bat: Not everywhere. There are regional people of darkness who have acquired the opportunity; for example, the rights for the same in Kerala were bought by Sir Kokachi.

Vampire Owl: But I wish to scare kids! I really want to really frighten them! It is my special skill!

Vampire Bat: Well, with Hotel Transylvania’s second part around, may be we will have to retire after all. I hope that this movie can support our cause.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://www.kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1146-goosebumps-movie-review

Goosebumps is the name for a series of children’s horror fiction works written by Robert Lawrence Stine in the 1990s in the US. Among many such works from the American author, this particular series happened to be the most popular. There were also various spin-off series which emerged out of these works. These stories had the characteristic of being funny along with being scary. A television series was also brought to the fans based on the stories. Even though an attempt was made to create a movie on Goosebumps in the year 1998, it didn’t happen. After many speculations by the fans, on 16th of October 2015, the idea was finally brought to the audience in the form of a movie.

Zachary Cooper (Dylan Minnette) has moved from New York to the small fictional town of Madison with his mother Gale Cooper (Amy Ryan). As he begins his schooling there, his mother joins as the vice-principal at the same educational institution. The new place seems to be calm and quiet, and almost everything seems normal except for their neighbours. Even though Zachary quickly becomes close to the friendly neighborhood girl Hannah (Odeya Rush), her father (Jack Black) doesn’t approve of it, and he doesn’t even like anyone else coming near his house. As he tries to keep everyone away, Zachary only wishes to somehow get closer to the neighbours.

Zachary feels that Hannah is being mistreated by her father, and he calls the police. But that doesn’t go on as planned, with the police officers ending up warning him instead. But another day, he breaks into the house with his newly found friend from school, Champion (Ryan Lee) hoping to find her. In there, they find the girl, but it turns out that she and her father are not just normal people like everyone in the town. There is a mystery hidden in the bookshelves and they will end up unlocking them; it surely won’t do the town any good. A new adventure begins with an abominable snowman and a dummy as they unleash something which they can’t seem to stop.

The movie is sure to provide a good dose of nostalgia to those who have grown up reading the books and watching the television series. The impact will still depend on how people consider the way in which this movie shows the creatures related to their childhood memories. The creatures are all good, the most notable ones being Slappy the Dummy, the abominable snowman, the werewolf and the giant praying mantis. The others including the walking dead, vampire bats, ghost-like creatures, vampire-like monsters, the invisible boy, a circus clown and a number of humanoid creatures – all make a nice combination as they come to life from the books. There is a huge group of them, and fans will surely recognize them better.

Goosebumps is never even close to being scary, and the audience needs to keep that in mind. But it is fun, and the monsters are nice to watch on the big screen in 3D. As a horror comedy, this will prove to a fine watch for family audience. The comedy is good, and there are some memorable funny moments in this one, even though viewers might still ask for more. There is nothing new in the story either, and the movie doesn’t even bring a special sub-plot here. As most of the viewers might have guessed a lot earlier, monsters are all from books written by the author of the original series of books, and these main characters need to team up to get them back into the book before the whole town is ruined and everyone around ends up dead.

Jack Black effortlessly carries this movie as the main character and the only person who is in any manner related to these monsters, and holds the key to getting them back into the books. The audience will find that he blends easily into his character as expected. Dylan Minnette has done good work here in the role which can be categorized into that of the male lead. Ryan Lee has his moments completely on the funny side. Odeya Rush does her job really well, and some might find her somewhat a younger version of Mila Kunis at times. Amy Ryan and Jillian Bell manage to contribute well with the next two significant roles. R.L. Stine, the author of the works, also makes a very small cameo appearance as the movie gets near the end.

Even though people should find Goosebumps very much enjoyable, it does remind us of so many movies from the past. Inkheart had the characters from a book coming to life, while The Cabin in the Woods was a movie which had all the popular horror characters coming together as part of a huge, secret plan. Jumanji had the dangers of the board game coming to life to haunt the players, and Zathura dealt with a similar premise. So, the audience won’t find anything new in these creatures coming to life. But they will surely find Goosebumps to be a nice and interesting because of the way in which it is presented, with nostalgia also having a role to play for a few fans.

Release date: 30th October 2015 (India); 16th October 2015 (USA)
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Rob Letterman
Starring: Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Dylan Minnette, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage, Ken Marino, Steven Krueger, E. Roger Mitchell, Timothy Simons, Amanda Lund, Keith Arthur Bolden, Benjamin Papac, R.L. Stine


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.