Arrival

arrival-1

Vampire Owl: We are all awaiting their grand arrival, sometimes without even closing our eyes.

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand. Who exactly are you talking about? There are no names on this guest book for quite some time. If this is an unofficial meeting coming up, you will still have to inform Uncle Dracula through the telepathic connection.

Vampire Owl: The ones who shall not be named, those whom nobody shall dare to name.

Vampire Bat: If you can’t name then, I won’t be able to wait for them. It makes no sense at all.

Vampire Owl: It is because you are a man without faith. It makes you spiritually poor.

Vampire Bat: I have more faith than you and your brainless zombie minions combined.

Vampire Owl: Well, the beautifully carved tombstones at my favourite cemetery has better faith.

Vampire Bat: This does make me wonder what you mean by the words “faith” and “arrival”.

Vampire Owl: Maybe, you can take some lessons from this movie.

Vampire Bat: Movies with messages and lessons are the best. Let us see how this one goes.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with special samosas].

What is the movie about? :: A linguist, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is teaching at the university when she hears an alarm. Twelve alien spacecrafts have landed on Earth, at Maracay in Venezuela, Montana in the United States, Kujalleq in Greenland, Devon in the United Kingdom, Kenema in Sierra Leone, Khartoum in Sudan, Punjab in Pakistan, Siberia in Russia, Hokkaido in Japan, Shanghai in China, and also in the Black Sea and the Indian Ocean. The United States Army Colonel G.T. Weber (Forest Whitaker) contacts Louise to help the nation and the planet Earth as a whole by joining a team which includes people specialised in different fields including a theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). The idea is to understand the reason behind the arrival of the aliens.

So, what happens next? :: At a military camp in Montana near one of the spaceships, the military look forward to knowing if the aliens are really hostile, or are they just trying to make peace with the humans. This can only be done by entering the spaceship at a certain point of time, coming face to face with the creatures. The aliens are nicknamed by the group as “heptapods” due to having seven legs, and the team starts making contact with them. The language of the aliens is something which corresponds to nothing else, as they write some strange circular symbols on the glass which separated them and the humans. Louise puts in a big effort to understand what these symbols mean by connecting them to the basic vocabulary.

What follows the arrival :: Louise also seems to have visions of her daughter at the same time, and it seems to connect with her process of knowing the new language. The nations and their leaders become restless as time passes, and all the spacecrafts remain at the same place without moving an inch. With the curiosity at its peak, the answer from the aliens on what they want seems to be “offer weapon” which alerts all countries. There is the fear of an upcoming threat from the aliens with some new advanced weapons, and some nations even mobilise their military as if to defend against a potential attack. China takes it one step further, as it gets ready to attack the aliens from its territory, and asks other world leaders to do the same. But Louise is convinced that there is something more to this alien arrival – what can it be? Can she stop a war?

The defence of Arrival :: We might have seen many alien invasion movies, but Arrival is the flick that successfully thinks differently with the basic idea. It is science fiction, and it has creatures from other planet, but it so close to life; it is something that not many movies of the same genre will find difficult to achieve. There is also a lot of beauty on screen, and the performances that support the whole thing. The feeling of a possible disaster runs throughout the movie, but there seems to be not more than one explosion in the whole movie. Amy Adams remains the big strong point of the movie, and along with Nocturnal Animals, this is another movie in which she scores amazingly high. Between Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League, she has got two perfect movies in there. Jeremy Renner and the visuals nicely compliment the same.

The claws of flaw :: A lot of people are certain to find Arrival to be kind of slow for their liking. There are too many things happening in this movie, and a lot of them are emotional, plus there is almost no big action sequence or destruction which people expect from these type of movies. Don’t judge this movie by the positive or negative opinions though, as Arrival is a kind of personal experience which needs the movie to be watched. It is also a little bit too philosophical – even though it is not that bad, that feeling is not there throughout the flick. A quicker pace, and a more twisted revealing of the surprise would have helped better too, but as this is based on a short story, it is up-to those who have read the tale to make a better analysis inside. The movie could have also been darker in its theme along with speeding up things. I am also sure that people would have expected more considering how the first half was going.

How it finishes :: Based on a science fiction short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang which had won the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella and the 1999 Sturgeon Award, Arrival might be the alien movie and the science fiction flick which you might have been waiting for, with a desire to concentrate less on action. It has won eight OScar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards as we look at them – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. Well, if these are not reasons enough to make you watch this movie, one has to wonder what else would have. I would wish for a nomination for Amy Adams for the Best Actress too, with this one and Nocturnal Animals too, but we can’t get them all, can we?

Release date: 11th November 2016
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma, Mark O’Brien

arrival

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ice Age V

Vampire Owl: Another Ice Age movie? This is like a trail of blood.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is not the end either. There will be more to follow.

Vampire Owl: What? Ice Age: Continental Drift itself had to go on struggles.

Vampire Bat: But they are all successful movies at the box-office, and so we have one more, with the rest to follow.

Vampire Owl: That could make it longer than the original time period of ice age.

Vampire Bat: Well, success brings more and more of the same thing, and the quality has to go down at some point.

Vampire Owl: But that too, should have limits.

Vampire Bat: Well, this still can’t be that bad.

Vampire Owl: It can still be my least favourite Ice Age movie.

Vampire Bat: Yes, that is a real possibility, if you look from the outside itself.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana fry].

What is the movie about? :: Scrat (Chris Wedge), the sabretooth squirrel has been going on with his affectionate adventure with acorn for more time than anybody has ever spent for anyone they have loved. It is once again him who was trying to bury his acorn, that ends up activating an abandoned alien space ship on Earth. This action takes him into deep space, and there, his attempt to get to the acorn sends asteroids on course to Earth, with a grand collision expected. There is no shortage of worry for him about the acorn, but there is even bigger worries on Earth on the family level. Manny might be the most tensed parent on the surface of Earth at that time, as he is extremely worried about the upcoming marriage between his daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer) and her lover, Julian (Adam DeVine). Ellie (Queen Latifah) is also not that less worried about the same, especially with them possibly going to live separately.

So, what happens next? :: But the mammoths are not the only ones having family problems, as Diego (Denis Leary) and his wife Shira (Jennifer Lopez) wish to begin a family, but their scary appearance doesn’t seem to go well with the kids, which has them in doubt about future. Sid (John Leguizamo) is living a life of depression and sadness after being dumped by his girlfriend, Francine (Melissa Rauch) just before he proposes to her. There is no happiness around, with things not getting any better. But they hope to lighten things up with the wedding anniversary celebrations of Manny and Ellie, but it is when the asteroids set on course by Scat finally hits Earth, and things turn more serious and even more messed up. With end of all life in the forest staring at them along with a possible case of extinction on the cards, the team decides to escape, until their old friend Buck (Simon Pegg) comes up with an idea that could stop the asteroids from hitting the same place again.

And where does things go from there? :: But a trio of dromaeosaurs named Gavin (Nick Offerman), Gertie (Stephanie Beatriz), and Roger (Max Greenfield) have planned to have revenge on Buck by messing up this plan. They think that they could just fly away when the asteroids hit the surface of the planet, while all mammals die, establishing their dominion over the whole place. Roger is confused about the same, and doesn’t believe that it is the right way, but decide to do what the rest of the family does. They follow the team hoping to mess up anything that they plan to do. The group discovers that the asteroids possess electro-magnetic properties. Buck theorizes that if a huge quantity of smaller asteroids could be launched into the orbit, they could deviate the path of the asteroid and keep it from falling on the surface. But can they do that before the time runs out, and will their enemies let them succeed in this seemingly impossible mission to save all life on the planet?

The defence of Ice Age: Collision Course :: There are enough funny scenes in this movie to make sure that you are interested in the happenings around. This is sure to appeal to the kids more than anybody else, and those who haven’t watched the earlier movies of the franchise might love this one even more. The funniest moments here are from the sloths and the weasel, and the rest just seems to follow the fun rather than create more of the same. The beautiful animation and the amazing world which is around, will catch your attention for sure – a pre-historic setting might be among the best choices for animated movies, as The Croods has also proven. The big thing about this movie is that it has managed to be lovable even after so many years of the first movie being released, and the level not getting much of a higher – there is something about this one that keeps people attracted to it, and you will feel that despite the predictability, there will be good box-office collections for any movie in this franchise – maybe they were in too much of a hurry to release this one to earn more at the box-office?

The claws of flaw :: A case of repetition is here, with the team of animals once again going to save themselves from a possible natural disaster, and finding more than one thing through this adventure. The case of insecurity from parents often gets too irritating, and so do the two young mammoths – we are again made sure that even though the mammoths are the main characters, we don’t really like them as much as the others. Scrat also keeps doing the same thing again and again, there seems to be no change coming up there. For a franchise that has given four better movies before this, could have done more in a world which has been transformed with smarter animated movies like Frozen, Inside Out, Big Hero 6, Moana and Zootopia, which have all been nice single titles, and another point to note is that the other animated franchise with animals, Madagascar has always kept the level high, and never did it drop down; the competition is so much bigger, and this franchise should realise that sooner or later, saving itself from a possible extinction.

How it finishes :: There is no doubt that the Ice Age franchise is trying to make more and more out of its early popularity, and while doing the same, is losing some of its fans – there is not that much of a creativity in this movie which could have built well on what is also there, a franchise which had begun so strong. Following those footsteps, if this franchise can’t stay good enough, it will be a case of disappointment. I would say that this one has managed to stay afloat, but there are too many signs that this is going nowhere to raise the level of the whole thing, and there were so many chances of trouble here. When there is so much to do with a pre-historic environment which might even bring magic if the best of creativity is used, this fifth movie of the franchise is not the movie that the whole series can be proud of, with the least score, but can choose to improve from here for sure. Watch this one without too much expectations, and place your hopes on the next.

Release date: 22nd July 2016 (USA); 15th July 2016 (India)
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Mike Thurmeier
Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Josh Peck, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Stephanie Beatriz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lilly Singh, Melissa Rauch, Chris Wedge

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rakshadhikari Baiju

Vampire Owl: This character reminds me of myself during my early days.

Vampire Bat: You mean the days before you became a vampire.

Vampire Owl: No, my early days as a vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that you performed really bad during those days.

Vampire Owl: No, I had balance in all aspects of life just like this man in the trailer.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see how this can be termed as balance.

Vampire Owl: Well, my case was all about balancing everything in life with so much skill that I managed to develop just from the inside.

Vampire Bat: There is no balance in life; one thing goes the right way, and something else losses the way.

Vampire Owl: I am actually writing a book on it, with special thanks to you.

Vampire Bat: That is an action completely against balance.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Baiju (Biju Menon) is everything for a group of people at Kumbalam, a region which is commonly considered as a part of an extended Kochi, but still retains its simple, village-like life. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, the place is connected at both sides by bridges, which is slowly and steadily transforming the lives of the people there. Here, this man leads a group of youngsters who are part of a cricket team which has been trying to win local tournaments, but not with that much success – it hasn’t stopped them from trying though. The team’s members include Manoj (Deepak Parambol) and Unni (Aju Varghese) among the others. Manoj has fallen for a girl in the neighbourhood named Rose (Anagha L K Maruthora) who also seems to have some interest in him, while a co-worker, Sreekala (Krishna Padmakumar) has fallen for Unni who is not interested in her and is looking for a girl to marry all around the state.

So, what happens next? :: His lack of interest in his job despite being in government service doesn’t make his wife Ajitha (Hannah Reji Koshy) happy, and the same is the case with his parents. He also spends money from his pocket to help his friends in need, and is the major force behind leading a boy in his team to Ranji trophy and later into an IPL team. Despite avoiding all the responsibilities at home as well as office, he is still a loved man everywhere. Being an irrigation department official and also a patron of the Kumbalam Brothers Club will keep him going through a journey which started when he was just a kid, along with George (Dileesh Pothan) and other friends of him, who have all settled outside India or at least outside Kerala. But he remains in his hometown, doing the same things as if it is to go on for eternity – but how long can these continue during a time when modernisation comes up, and who all will be with him?

The defence of Rakshadhikari Baiju :: There is an abundance of humour in Rakshadhikari Baiju, and it is no surprise with the cast that we see here. With the simple things that could happen in anyone’s life, the tale progresses nicely, even as there is nothing like Chinthavishtayaaya Shyamala unlike expected at one point. With the performances and events, things just seem natural here, with nothing artificial added. The message that the movie provides is also something for this age, when children try to replace the outdoor sports for computer games and more and more of mobile gaming – the movie asks its viewers to encourage outdoor sporting events which will improve the health of an upcoming generation, and also to save those free spaces, the green open grounds with trees in villages and towns. There is also that feeling of nostalgia that will come back to us seeing all these happenings. A realistic tale about common people is always better than a fake story claiming to be realistic, whether it is about a slow love story that will take an eternity to finish doing something or related to a tale filling a town with criminals who love pork.

The claws of flaw :: What surprises one the most is that there are villains in the movie, and along with one coming right out of a modern world which has no real face, there is another one played by Padmaraj Ratheesh, which goes absolutely nowhere – there never seems to be any need except for one funny sequence or two which works due to Biju Menon’s comic timing. There is also the love angle added with the character named Rose, which is also pretty much wasted just as our protagonist’s own love story flashback that comes into the present. Without these, the movie would have saved a lot of time, and the extra length of the movie could have been cut down to make this a very good entertainer with no dull moments; but here we see those sequences which are not really needed. The simplicity of the movie also needed more of the touch of feel-good and nostalgia to power it to the next level, and the same is also not there.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon once again becomes what the character needs him to be, and this role is no surprise for sure. Just like he did in Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, he uses the simple incidents in life to evoke laughter, and he is well supported here. Aju Varghese keeps doing what he does the best, and provides the fun-filled support. Deepak Parambol does the role that could be of the second hero fine enough, despite his character losing way by the end. It is Hareesh Perumanna who has some of the funniest moments in the movie though, and his character has the comic side strong and written all over. Dileesh Pothan has only his presence for only a few minutes though, and still there is a lot of fun with his sequences starting with the dialogue about having changed by being rich. Hannah Reji Koshy whom we had seen for the last time in Darwinte Parinamam has a nice stay here as the leading actress too.

How it finishes :: This is one of those lesser hyped movies which can stay long just by being the movie that everyone can watch and enjoy, somewhat close to what Vellimoonga did even if not being that much of a force, considering the fact that families only have Sakhavu as the newer movie that is left to go for, Puthan Panam being pretty much a clear terrible movie, and also having an ‘Adult certificate’. The Great Father and 1971: Beyond Borders should also be there along with the undisputed best Malayalam movie of the year so far which is Take Off, but our movie starts a new innings here with not much of a challenge for a week which is in the safe zone. If you liked the Biju Menon starrers Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, there is no doubt that you will like this one too, and so this one is a safe bet; there is a little bit of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam feeling in this one too. Simple, and without complicating things, the movie here stays close to life, and also allows the viewers to take the messages home.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 162 minutes
Directed by: Ranjan Pramod
Starring: Biju Menon, Hannah Reji Koshy, Aju Varghese, Deepak Parambol, Hareesh Perumanna, Dileesh Pothan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Alencier Ley Lopez, Janardhanan, Indrans, Vijayaraghavan, Chethan Jayalal, Vishal Krishna, Aabid Nassar, Ambika Mohan, Nebish Benson, Krishna Padmakumar, Anjali Aneesh, Anagha L K Maruthora, Sankar Induchoodan, Sasi Kalinga

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Finding Dory

Vampire Owl: You remember what I had told you earlier, right?

Vampire Bat: You keep telling me so many things of no significance. Which of them are you mentioning here?

Vampire Owl: About finding Nemo the fish!

Vampire Bat: Yes, it was one of the best animated movies of that time.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am talking about us helping to find this Nemo boy.

Vampire Bat: You went to find a fictional fish out of an animated movie?

Vampire Owl: It was a competition in Finding Nemo Extended Vampire Edition.

Vampire Bat: And you found the fish in the end?

Vampire Owl: No, we found some Mackerel and Sardine instead. We had them for dinner.

Vampire Bat: So, the time was well spent. It is good to have happy endings.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with the Book of the Undead].

What is the movie about? :: We see the little fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) with a short-term memory loss getting separated from her parents. She asks many other creatures of the sea about her parents, but due to her memory problems, she is not able to connect well enough to direct them to where she came from. This turns her into an orphan, and also recluse until she finds Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) during an adventure to find the missing boy who was captured by scuba divers. After this long and successfuly journey, she has joined Marlin and Nemo, having forgotten about her past and the lost parents for some time. But at some point, she does have a certain flashback coming to her, and remembers something, which she decides to chase, in an attempt to get herself back to the family.

So, what happens next? :: In this journey, she doesn’t go alone. She is accompanied by her partners of the last adventure, Marlin and Nemo. But this journey not that much of a peaceful one, with them immediately being in danger. With Marlin blaming Dory, she swims to the surface, only to be caught by the staff members from the Marine Life Institute which is nearby. There, she is placed in the quarantine with a tag. There she meets an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) who wish to go to an aquarium in Cleveland rather than live in the ocean, a life which he detests. Therefore, he decides to help Dory in exchange for the tag which would help him to live the life that he wished to. At the same time, Marlin and Nemo are planning to rescue Dory from outside, and for the same, they come up with a rather strange idea. With time running out, can Dory find her parents, and can Marlin and Nemo find Dory in the end?

The defence of Finding Dory :: There is nothing much being lost from the first movie in this second one. They have once again made a simple, touching movie with enough humour to keep you going. It is also an amazingly beautiful world under the sea, with so many creatures and plants; the life forms under water immediately catching our attention, and we want more and more. There is cuteness all around, and kids will love it more than anyone else, along with someone with a kid’s heart. With each character being remembered and loved for one thing or the other, the Finding Nemo effect is carried over to this movie – if you haven’t watched the first movie, there will be absolutely no repetitions, and there is the chance that you will love Finding Dory even more. Well, it has been so long, and there is more possibility of you having forgotten a lot of the first movie by now; still there is the certainty of the essence being always there in the mind – Finding Nemo was that good.

The claws of flaw :: One thing that this movie follows correctly without doing anything special is to do what Finding Nemo did, and up-to an extent, repeats the same, just like the title suggests. Maybe the fishes going missing and being found is quite natural in the sea community. This is surely a step down from Finding Nemo, because we were always expecting more, to have the sequel come up with new ideas and move forward, or maybe even make the franchise better with second one. Instead, this one chooses to have the blue fish being lost instead of the orange one, and therefore the short-term memory loss is with the lost fish rather than the saviours. This is certain to make one wonder if the next movie will be Finding Marlin – we see that there is a huge world under the sea with so many creatures around, and these immense possibilities need to be explored; otherwise the franchise can’t raise the bar.

Soul exploration :: Finding Dory is all about going on even with disabilities or whatever comes in between in your life. There is the need to find a way, and our protagonist here finds it despite always being on the back foot. Alone or with the help of her friends, she never backs down, and moves on to achieving her target – it is more of a risk in our world full of chaos compared to this little world of fish; but there is no success without trying. Finding Dory asks us to go on, forgetting our limitations, and achieve what seems impossible to many others in the society. With Dory being the protagonist, it is the kind of extra inspiration that we have here, and it is what makes this movie better. What we need is more of the motivation, and all the support that we can get, and not that which we keep asking for and not receiving. All these makes Finding Dory another inspirational movie with different characters in a different world.

How it finishes :: The level of Finding Nemo was so good that it surely deserved an even better sequel. But Finding Dory happens to be almost there, and will work for all kinds of audience with its simple tale and nice humour, as well as those lovely animations and a wonderful world. The level of animated movies have improved, and it no longer remains how it was when Finding Nemo released in 2003. If you consider the two movies which battled so hard for the Academy Award for the Best Animated Film, Moana and Zootopia, there is so little that differentiated the two, and we just can’t stop loving them both. Then you look at the years before, and see Inside Out, Big Hero 6 and Frozen, and you see the level – along with Kung Fu Panda and its sequels, this franchise also needs to make sure that there is no going the Ice Age way – there are five movies, and rather too many of them going a step down each time. Finding Nemo won the Oscar, and Finding Dory never came close.

Release date: 17th June 2016
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bob Peterson, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, Alexander Gould, Torbin Xan Bullock, Andrew Stanton, Katherine Ringgold, Bennett Dammann, John Ratzenberger, Angus MacLane, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, Austin Pendleton, Stephen Root, Vicki Lewis, Jerome Ranft



@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Passengers

What is the movie about? :: It is a long time into the future with space technology being very much capable of almost anything that has been dreamt about right now. It has reached a state of near perfection that science is now something that cannot fail to deliver the promises which are calculated and made, no matter what the circumstances are. There is the highly advanced spaceship named Avalon which is transporting around five thousand colonists and a crew of two hundred and fifty eight suspended in hibernation pods to the new colony far away in space, the planet Homestead II through a journey that is expected to take one hundred and twenty years. Just thirty years into its journey, the ship comes across an asteroid belt, and despite keeping the shield strength at its highest, hits one of the huge projectiles, and faces multiple errors, all of it the ship repairs by itself while on autopilot, but there is the connection to pod number 1498 which gets struck hard, and the system is unable to repair the same.

So, what happens next? :: This problem awakens the passenger in hibernation inside the pod, a mechanical engineer named Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), ninety years earlier than he was supposed to wake up. After the early briefing and classes, he realises that he is the only one awake, and it is too early considering the fact that he was supposed to wake up only four months before the ship made landfall – at this rate, he was only going to age and die before the ship reached its destination. He tries sending a message to Earth, but not only does it prove expensive, the same is going to take nineteen years to arrive at the home planet, and the earliest reply is estimated to take fifty five years. He tries getting inside the pod again, and even repairing the pod using the instructions and his own technical skills, but there is no hope there. He tries to contact the people responsible, but the only people whom he gets to speak with are the machines and all he receives are automated answers.

And where does things go from there? :: After having tried everything including breaking in to places, Jim gets ready to accept his fate, talking and spending time with Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender on the ship, as well as forcing himself into the areas of higher class passengers and enjoying special privileges. One year goes by, and Jim gets more and more disappointed about his situation, and even thinks about committing suicide, despite finally deciding against it. There is almost nothing new happening out there, and the spaceship just goes on through its path. But one day, while going through the pods, he come across Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) sleeping in her pod. He watches her profile and video and immediately falls for her, a writer. After thinking deep about it, he makes her pod malfunction, and she also awakens. He tells Arthur not to reveal the truth behind her pod to her.

And where are things heading now? :: Aurora, hopeless at first about the fact that she is going to age and die before reaching her dream destination, goes through the same things that Jim tried, and finally decides to write about her experiences during the journey. Soon, the two become very close to each other. Aurora trusts Jim as the only other person there, and the one last human being she is going to see in her life before she dies. But things don’t go that smooth as expected, and there is no perfect love story coming up here. The secret will be revealed, as Aurora will find out the truth behind her pod failure, and she won’t be the same person after that. At the same time, another pod will malfunction, and the same will awaken Gus (Laurence Fishburne), a Chief Deck Officer. He will reveal a few things about the current situation of the ship, which will threaten the lives of everyone on board. Can the ship be saved from a terrible fate that awaits, and can Jim and Aurora work together for the same?

The defence of Passengers :: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are undoubtedly great together – there is a great chemistry going on there. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, and the spaceship is something that will stay in your minds for its splendour not just outside, but also inside. The swimming pool without gravity is among the best. Yes, the space remains amazing, and so do our ship and the leading characters. This is about the two people, their emotions and the space ship – along with all the saving that is needed in the end. Unlike what the reviewers are constantly saying without thinking deeper about there is one act of sacrifice and selflessness that we get to see in the end. Above all, this is also more like the tale of Adam and Eve, with the two protagonists getting to live with themselves, as the spaceship which faces devastation like our planet does, many years later – it can only be told later if the world in space survives, as the rest of the four thousand nine hundred and ninety eight people will get to be born again into a new world.

The claws of flaw :: There could have been better pacing for a two hour long movie, even though it never really brings the boredom to us. It is also not so good that Laurence Fishburne gets to come too late – there is a little too much going on before that, to be exact. We could have gotten this movie to be shorter by at least fifteen minutes, or rather could have had more action rather than extending the lonely life of the protagonist, and the relationship between the two main characters so much. There is even that happy climax which seems to be forced, but as I read some reviews by a few self-proclaimed intellectual reviewers, I feel that that climax and ending is the best, for it should have irritated their stubborn side a lot more. Maybe, you can search for the reviews with a lot of use of the word “selfish”, and then you can find out the flaws which have discovered, or rather created in this movie – most of them don’t really exist if you look at the flick; for I was very much immersed in this movie.

How it finishes :: The reviews on this movie have remained prejudiced, and that is not surprising considering how these people have been degrading the good movies in favour of those particular kind of movies, and try to make these movies score better at the box-office; it has been going on as a trend. The good thing is that a lot of reviewers from India have succeeded in going beyond that prejudice to like this flick. What surprises us the most is that almost all these reviewers who would do the exact same thing when caught up with a situation like this, have chosen to blame the protagonist, as well as the makers of the movie for so many factors related to the same – some people are just too idiotic to take only selected things into heart, when all these have finally come together to save so many lives in the end. We don’t have one selfish person here, but two, as it is evident from the second character, and it is selflessness and sacrifice that wins in the end – lets hope that people who have no idea of love and sacrifice will one day understand that. Well, who needs a more human story in space when there is Interstellar full of science and no humanity? For action, there are the Star Trek movies, Jupiter Ascending, Guardians of the Galaxy and many more. But this one is also worth it! If you liked this, do watch Pandorum.

Release date: 21st December 2016 (USA); 6th January 2017 (India)
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Nazanin Boniadi, Andy García, Aurora Perrineau, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Julee Cerda, Conor Brophy, Lauren Farmer, Aurora Perrineau, Emerald Mayne, Kristin Brock

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sakhavu

What is the movie about? :: Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a leftist student leader who wishes to make it big at every level. For the same, he has been studying different courses in the college – his aim is to get to the top of party’s student wing, and from there, get to a big position in party’s trade union, and then become MLA or MP. For the same, he is ready to do anything, including getting rid of his best friends who are threat to him. It is his friend in the party Mahesh (Althaf Salim) who provides him support in all his plans without asking for anything in return. One day, he gets a call from the party office to go to the hospital and donate blood for a party member who is in critical condition. He isn’t really interested in the same, and tries to act rude so that he could get out of there as fast as possible. There, he meets Aishwarya (Gayathri Suresh), his old friend from school, working as a nurse at the same hospital, who talks to him about the person who is in the ICU.

So, what happens next? :: There he meets more people including the man’s friends, and also his wife Janaki (Aishwarya Rajesh) and his daughter Nidhi (Aparna Gopinath), and the tale of a much loved comrade is revealed. There is a long past that goes to those days when this comrade, named Krishnan (again Nivin Pauly) had come to Peermade to strengthen the left trade union activities at the place. There were many things that followed, including those incidents which made the man a favourite among the masses, and nothing less than trouble for the exploiters. Krishna Kumar listens to the tale and also to that incident that landed Krishnan at the hospital – there is more to things here than what meets the eye, as he hears about what the comrade has been working on in the last few days. So, how does this tale influence Krishna Kumar, and how does life change for the man who was always after high positions and fame in the party?

The defence of Sakhavu :: There is the strength of ideology behind this movie, and it goes towards taking a righteous stand, especially when a political leader is concerned – on what the left ideals really mean, if they are implemented in the right way. The message is strong, and there is the presence of feel-good elements. The flashback scenes look really nice, and you need to watch this one on the big screen for the same. There is the presence of a lot of humour in the first forty five minutes of the movie, and then things get serious – the strength of the whole thing is tested, but the movie then stands the test, and comes back victorious. It is also the final sequence after the credits start rolling that score big at a time when we feel that the movie ended too soon. The movie can be considered as a nice mixture of things, and without showing no overdose of action sequences, the intensity of the sequences are very well delivered.

The claws of flaw :: There is a rather predictable story in this flick – even though the hero from the past has his heroics to be talked about by others, there is nothing new or special in that tale which follows a pattern which so many tales from the past has followed, with a big estate and firm, along with the workers who suffer because the rich and the affluent just don’t care. The movie could have also been shorter, or could have added some special ingredients to justify its length – maybe a return to the present in the end, and some more sequences to follow with the protagonist’s life could have made things even better, rather than stretching the flashback a little too much with the predictable things. The scope was so much more for this movie, and the divergence that it has taken here is not much, as the attempt is there to balance the class and the mass, never to overdo any of them. The movie could have also used its heroines more, especially in the present.

Performers of the soul :: When you look at Nivin Pauly’s last few movies, Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Action Hero Biju and Premam, they were not just very good movies, but also did great at the box-office; now he is back for more. This is also the best movie with him as a solo hero, and also the best performance from him till date. Here he comes in two roles, and among the two, it is the new-age role that suits the best for him – the other role also demands him to play the elder version of the character, which also leaves a mark. There is the new generation social worker portrayed nicely with all the shortcuts of life which are taken, and there is the maturity of the old generation comrade, who has struggled so hard with everything in life for the party as well as the society. It works at both sides for Nivin Pauly, and this is the kind of performance which will mean a big change and the right kind of deviation in his career. Here, it is Althaf who provides him great support with a nice funny side, making things so much alive.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Nivin Pauly continuing his run as the one actor whose movies keep the standard, there is also a supporting cast which has rather less to do in helping. There are three heroines in this movie, but they get to do rather less in this flick which is highly dependent on Nivin Pauly to perform in two separate roles. Aishwarya Rajesh gets the most to do in the flashback, as the comrade’s wife, and a little bit in the present, and she manages the same fine, even though there seemed to a little bit of urgency about everything; rather more than required. It is good to see her again after Jomonte Suvisheshangal. Gayathri Suresh gets rather too little in this one, even less than what he had to do in Oru Mexican Aparatha and Puthiya Mugham, playing a character that the protagonist knows from school. Then there is Aparna Gopinath who plays the strongest of female leads, and also the most charming one – a good continuation after the magic of Charlie and the message supply in School Bus.

How it finishes :: Sidhartha Siva, the director is known for some of those critically appreciated movies including 101 Chodyangal and Ain, both winning him national awards, along with that inspirational flick which was very much feel-good, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Sakhavu undoubtedly keeps that high level, and once again, there is no trouble with the quality. Sakhavu is a movie that has almost everything, and it is the movie that you wouldn’t want to miss – it will win this Easter-Vishu season, considering the fact that most people have already watched The Great Father, 1971: Beyond Borders under-performing, and Puthan Panam ended up as one of the worst movies to have released in some time. This should be the season of Sakhavu which succeeds in rising above the expectations; it not just superior to Oru Mexican Aparatha, it is also more responsible, getting to the point in the right way, and leaving the right messages. This is one of the best movies of the year so far. Well, what seems to be a simple family flick, Rakshadhikari Baiju is the next one up at the theatres.

Release date: 15th April 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Sidhartha Siva
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Gayathri Suresh, Sreenivasan, Aishwarya Rajesh, Aparna Gopinath, Althaf Salim, Tony Luke, Musthafa, Sudheesh, Kalabhavan Rahman, Renji Panicker, Prem Kumar, Manianpillai Raju, Aliyar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Secret Life of Pets

Vampire Owl: I told you that they had secrets, very dangerous ones.

Vampire Bat: Who are you talking about here?

Vampire Owl: The pets. The minions. The zombies. They all have such secret lives.

Vampire Bat: Actually, this movie is not about your theory of animals stealing your writings. It never really happened, and is just a vampire conspiracy theory.

Vampire Owl: What? No! I know that they are having evil plans against us.

Vampire Bat: How can you look forward to big evil plans in an animated movie?

Vampire Owl: Animated evil is still evil, and it can also be brutal.

Vampire Bat: This one even won 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards.

Vampire Owl: Then I will look for the same in another evil animated movie.

Vampire Bat: Okay, just leave this one as a simple animated movie for now.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with a blueberry cake piece].

What is the movie about? :: A Jack Russell Terrier named Max (Louis CK) is living happily with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in an apartment in the city. He wishes to spend most of his time with her, but she has to go to work. After Katie leaves, he spends his time with other pets who also live in the same building: a fat, apathetic and proud cat Chloe (Lake Bell), a smart and always excited pug Mel (Bobby Moynihan), a happy and easy-going dachshund Buddy (Hannibal Buress), and also a parrot Sweetpea. There are also other two significant pets, Norman (Chris Renaud), a guinea pig who keeps losing his way in the apartment, and Gidget (Jenny Slate), a white Pomeranian dog on the opposite apartment having a desperate crush on Max, but haven’t been able to tell him that due to fear of rejection. All the pets socialise and lead a different life after their owners leave.

So, what happens next? :: As things go like this without anything new or special happening with their lives, Katie adopts Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a large mongrel from the dog pound. This leaves Max jealous about having to share his house and also his belongings with someone new. Despite Duke’s repeated attempts to make a deal to share things, Max doesn’t agree and claims everything for himself. He even attempts to make Max look bad in front of Katie even though she has decided to share her love between the two. Angry at Max’s attitude towards him, Duke tries to teach him a lesson outside, but they are both a group of stray cats who remove their collars and leave them on the streets to be caught by Animal Control. Max is desperate to get home again, while Duke is afraid that he will be put down if he goes back to the dog pound.

And then how do things go from there? :: But things don’t end there for them as help is on the way. There is Snowball (Kevin Hart), a white rabbit who leads a rebel group of pets who were mistreated and disowned by their owners. Max and Duke are saved, and they go with anti-domestication gang into the sewers, hoping to find their way back home one day. There are tales of cruelty from humans against the pets told by the members of the group, and hatred runs wild against the human species. As Max and Duke also pretend to hate humans, and even claim to have killed one, Snowball invites them to join the group. But their earlier enemies, the stray cats come in and tell the truth, and they escape, but not without Snowball on their trail vowing to kill them as they had ended up accidentally killing their holy viper. So, the question remains if they can save themselves, or even their old friends find them and save them before Snowball gets his hands on them?

The defence of The Secret Life of Pets :: The movie nicely takes on the other world, leading us through the imaginary space that our pets consider theirs. The voice cast is very much suitable, and there is lot of fun in store in this one. The kids are going to love this one, as already proven with Kids’ Choice Awards, and the people with pets will love it even more. This will appeal the most to the owners of dogs, but the rest also gets their due. There is the message of adjusting to the situations and also to consider the feelings of others, keeping family and friends close to each other. It also tells the owners of animals and birds to be nice to them, and to keep them close and provide the needed, as they are required to be. Well, we get to associate with more pets than we think we will have to; and The Secret Life of Pets will come into the mind more than once. The whole thing remain cute, even with the talks of murdering others.

The claws of flaw :: There are times when The Secret Life of Pets gives that feeling that we have known and seen this before; there are also moments of predictability and repetition, something that the animated movies have struggled so hard to avoid. There will no new level of animated awesomeness to be set here, and this one surely trails in front of the two big animated movies of the year, Moana and Zootopia or the earlier big one, Inside Out. The movie also focuses on the dog’s side, and it is no surprise with the number of people who have or feel the need to have the dog rather than any other. But a tale about pets like this one could have had more of the cats, and hopefully the sequel will have the same. It is a need, and with this stereotyping that has been going on and on with cats and dogs, maybe there will be a day on which all these things will turn the other way around – it is that day which will have the best of movies of this kind, and we hope that it is The Secret Life of Pets 2 that we can talk about like that.

How it finishes :: With the sequel coming up in the year 2019, what the makers need to realise is that a movie like The Secret Life of Pets doesn’t need to focus that much on making people laugh, because it is funny – maybe some divergence is what the second movie of this series should be having. There is no doubt about the box-office too with this one becoming the highest grossing original animated movie which is not produced by Disney or Pixar, and The Secret Life of Pets is also the the sixth highest grossing film of 2016. It is even above the much hyped movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So, the first movie is a winner in so many ways, and what we will need to have is something different and special in the second one, thus maybe even going on to win the Academy Awards for the Best Animated Feature Film – even that much can be done with this material.

Release date: 8th July 2016
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Chris Renaud
Starring: Louis CK, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan, Albert Brooks, Chris Renaud, Michael Beattie, Sandra Echeverría, Kiely Renaud

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

1971: Beyond Borders

Vampire Owl: It has been some time since the last war movie had released.

Vampire Bat: You remember that Kandahar with the same character in the leading role was released in 2010.

Vampire Owl: And the last movie with soldiers at border in Picket 43 of 2015.

Vampire Bat: The director did act in Anarkali and Action Hero Biju after that though.

Vampire Owl: I have been looking forward to our own war here though.

Vampire Bat: You mean to talk about expanding the vampire territory beyond the current borders.

Vampire Owl: Yes, you know that it has always been my patriotic intention. The zombie minions are trained for the same.

Vampire Bat: They are trained, but that doesn’t supply the brains.

Vampire Owl: We are buying them at the Goblin Market at fifty five percent discount.

Vampire Bat: That explains the never-ending preparation for war.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn and vegetable puffs].

What is the movie about? :: Colonel Mahadevan (Mohanlal) is fighting with the United Nations troops in Georgia. There, his team saves the lives of a group of Pakistani soldiers who have also been fighting for the United Nations. After some friendly chat, Mahadevan invites the Pakistani troops to their battle honours day, an invitation which they seem to accept. While the programme is going on, it is revealed that Mahadevan’s father, Major Sahadevan (Mohanlal) had fought a battle against the Pakistani commander’s father, Mohammed Akram Raja (Arunoday Singh), in the 1971 Indo-Pak War for Bangladesh, and it had resulted in the death of the commander on the losing side. There is also more than that happened during those days of war, and we see Sahadevan narrating the same story to his grandchildren accompanied by his wife, Parvathy Sahadevan (Asha Sarath).

So, what happens next? :: Sahadevan is going through a holiday and some fun time with his friends at his hometown, when the news about the war reaches him. He decides to leave early before the telegram arrives, much to the dismay of his wife, son and all others who hoped for his presence there for a longer period of time. The same is the case of many other soldiers, especially Sudharshan (Krishna Kumar) whose father is extremely ill. The path ahead seems to be difficult for his team, as this is not the usual war for territorial gains, and the presence of a strong enemy force at their area makes things tougher – but there are some brave, tough and patriotic soldiers who are there with him for support; Lieutenant Chinmay (Allu Sirish) and Captain Aadhiselvam (Sudheer Karamana) are two of such men whom he meets and has his attention very soon. But Mohammed Akram Raja is determined to win this war and go home – well, so is Sahadevan.

The defence of 1971: Beyond Borders :: The movie’s best action sequences involve one with the battle tanks, and another one which has the two commanders going at each other in the end, even with the extra punch of heroism making both sequences strange at times – heroism without intelligence is not a quality that a hero should go for, and that makes one less a hero and more of a daredevil. The visuals are really good here, and there are some touching moments, which successfully make one feel for the troops as well as bring a certain amount of patriotism to keep the flame strong enough. The scenes of war deserves the appreciation, as it only gets better these days; yet there is the feeling that each of them could have been better. As it is said in Sir Walter Scott’s Lochinvar, “So daring in love, and so dauntless in war” – these are the qualities that determine the two main characters here, and after the deep consideration that war is meaningless, they will fight to death for their respective nations, obeying orders. The intention here seems to be good, as well as true – just not enough of the best application of ideas.

The claws of flaw :: There is that feeling of having seen all these before, especially with three movies already with Mohanlal playing the main character – Keerthi Chakra, Kurukshetra and Kandahar, along with the Prithviraj Starrer Picket 43. Except for having Mohanlal instead of Prithviraj, this one is surely closer to the last one, giving the idea that you can’t blame it on the enemy country, and it is all because of war. So, in one way or the other, it is patriotism which is responsible for the deaths of many people in more than one nation. Even in the opening credits, there is that long narration which won’t seem to make much of a difference as we go through the movie that touches not much of the same. The movie also doesn’t maintain the pace all the time, and there is too much repetition in store. The heroism displayed in this movie is also overdone, especially considering the fact that it tries to prove that this is all for the nation rather than being personal. The stereotypes also keep rushing, and we see an emotional side dependent on the same with less battle plans and too much lost between the meaninglessness of war and patriotism.

Performers of the soul :: Playing two characters, the son and the father, Colonel Mahadevan and Major Sahadevan, this one has been made for Mohanlal yet again. Major Mahadevan is not a character that Keralites as well as other Malayalam movie lovers will forget for a long time, and this one goes back to bring the prequel tale. This is no tough job for Mohanlal who controls this one, even though the father character is certainly inferior to the son – there are too many sequences which just seem to contradict the situations here for him. Allu Arjun’s younger brother, Allu Sirish also makes his Malayalam debut in this flick – there has been no shortage of dubbed movies of his brother getting success here, and lets hope that this will follow up with more from him; here he surely has our attention. But it is Arunoday Singh who leaves the best mark here – he shines as the Pakistani commander, and could use more of such roles with material to perform. All the female characters are left with not much to do in this movie.

How it finishes :: There has been some great success for Malayalam movies recently, most prominent ones among them being Mohanlal starrers themselves, Pulimurugan, Oppam and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, all three belonging to three different categories of action, thriller and drama respectively. Prithviraj’s Ezra had also went on to become the highest grossing horror movie of all time in the industry. Then, here is the war genre being explored yet again by Mohanlal – Major Ravi combination again. With The Great Father doing great job at the box-office, and the movies like Take Off staying there due to the excellence in making, 1971: Beyond Borders was to face some competition, but during this holiday season, it could stay there for some time easily – it is sure to do that for sure, and has the usual ingredients need for a movie in this genre, but there was always the scope to make this a better movie; this chance has been missed.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Major Ravi
Starring: Mohanlal, Arunoday Singh, Allu Sirish, Renji Panicker, Sudheer Karamana, Devan Asha Sarath, Priyanka Agrawal, Srushti Dange, Neha Khan, Saiju Kurup as Gunner Nathan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Zoya Zayed Khan, Pradeep Chandran, Krishna Kumar, Manikuttan, Shafeeq Rahman, Sudhir Sukumaran, Kannan Pattambi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Zootopia

Vampire Owl: And, here is our Academy Award Winner of the year, Zootopia.

Vampire Bat: It also won the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Movie Award and Annie Award for the Best Animated Feature Film.

Vampire Owl: I see that it had also received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.

Vampire Bat: But I still thought that Moana would get the award.

Vampire Owl: So did I, with The Rock also there for our entertainment.

Vampire Bat: The movies that we like the most rarely gets the award, does it?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I remember such occasions a lot.

Vampire Bat: Maybe we should get the chance to recommend a few ourselves.

Vampire Owl: We need the Vampire Academy Awards as soon as possible.

Vampire Bat: Still, I don’t think that there is that much of a difference between the Oscar nominated and won movies.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with sweet porotta].

What is the movie about? :: We are introduced to a world in which different kinds of animals thrive, as they live together without considering the differences that their species bring. The lifestyle is more like humans, and they are separated by their species and cuisines like we are by all those things beginning with race, there is a clear reflection of human life. The centre of all these is the place where everyone wishes to live in, the mega city of Zootopia where there is the chance for everyone to be what they want to be, and have a good life. So it is quite natural for a lot of animals to choose to go to this city and try their luck, as it is with many human cities. It is due to the same reason that a rabbit from a village called Bunnyburrow, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) wishes to become a police officer in the city. But it is not that easy, because it is not a usual job for the rabbits.

So, what happens next? :: But Judy does manage to become a police officer, even though her father Stu Hopps (Don Lake) and her mother Bonnie Hopps (Bonnie Hunt) doesn’t believe that she can perform well enough. They believe that she will come back to her some day, and save herself from the dangerous criminal world. With every other person in the police department being a strong mammal, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) doubts the abilities of her as a rabbit, and puts her in parking duty – her parents like it, but she doesn’t, as she performed so well during her training, and wanted to prove herself. But with other animals being bigger in size and strength, like buffaloes, leopards, tigers, lions along with others, it was always going to be a tough task for her to prove something physically. But she decides that she will prove everyone wrong.

What is to follow now? :: As she leaves the parking duty to arrest a thief Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk), Bogo is furious about her. As she even volunteers to solve a case related to Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) whose husband has gone missing, he decides that he will give the case to her, but she will have to quit if she fails to solve it. Dawn Bellwether (Jenny Slate) who is the assistant mayor of Zootopia, supports her, but she gets only forty eight hours to solve the case of this particular person and many other missing mammals. She makes a small-time con artist fox Nicholas P. Wilde (Jason Bateman) also join her, because he was the last one to see the missing person, and he also has many contacts in the city. Even though reluctant at first, he decides to join her in the end, and they go on a search deep into this problem – can they solve this or will Judy have to go back to her carrot farm in the village?

Zootopia as a tale with a fine core :: The movie has to be admired for how it uses its idea of different species to symbolise different people. There is difference in everyone whom we meet, and the idea of being different in many ways, is shown here too. It is up-to each one of us to go chasing that dream as a different person, and it is what everyone needs to do, no matter what problems come in between. At least the attempt has to be made here. The message against bullying is there, and we can also see that judging others is the worst thing that can be done against a person with an opinion on his own life. If someone wants to pursue something with all their hearts, the society just comes in between – what we want to do, we rarely gets to achieve; lets hope that Zootopia brings the inspiration for people who wish to be different with their lives.

What it says about the world :: Still, the other major idea in this movie is rather something which is so difficult to come true that it will work for almost nobody – you really can’t be anything that you want, and it is a fact; no matter how much one tries, he or she will be only become what the society wants them to be. There are so many people who are caught in this web from which there is no escape. We wonder why is the world so much interested in judging us, and eventually we fall into that trap. We are judged at home and we are further judged at the office if we have a job – we are judged by our relatives if we don’t have a job or are not married. The judgment is passed in such a way that we are good only for one thing, and people will rate us by what we earn – they will decide what we are capable of – it is a shameful thing, isn’t it?

How it finishes :: Zootopia is a movie that has so many messages in store, which makes this a movie for the adults as well as for the children. One has to wonder if this movie was preferred over the rest of the movies nominated for the Academy Awards due to the message against “racism” rather than the rest of the things including those nicely detailed characters and the extra messages that come into the picture – so, it got to follow Inside Out, Big Hero 6 and Frozen in that winning path. Everyone can hope to leave the theatres with questions as well as the messages that linger in the mind, and at the same time, with that feel-good effect. Well, the animated movies are the best whenever it comes to bringing some fine messages for the children and the adults alike. Zootopia follows the same path without giving its viewers a chance to complain, and there is a lot of fun in store without doubt.

Release date: 4th March 2016
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush (co-director)
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Raymond S. Persi, Maurice LaMarche, Phil Johnston, John DiMaggio, Gita Reddy, Katie Lowes, Jesse Corti, Tom Lister Jr., Josh Dallas, Leah Latham, Rich Moore, Peter Mansbridge, Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Mark Smith, John Lavelle, Kristen Bell, Josie Trinidad

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Moana

Vampire Owl: I have heard that the name Moana means ocean.

Vampire Bat: This movie is all about ocean.

Vampire Owl: I have even heard that Moana is a Polynesian sea god.

Vampire Bat: What do you know about sea gods?

Vampire Owl: They do not interest me. I am no person of the sea.

Vampire Bat: But we will watch this Oscar nominated movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, this is also for The Rock. I am looking forward to what he is cooking again.

Vampire Bat: He cooks really well, as we have seen in Hercules and The Fast and the Furious series.

Vampire Owl: Lets see if this one is worth the Vampire Oscars.

Vampire Bat: I am already prepared to nominate this one.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with sweet puffs].

What is the movie about? :: The famous demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) steals the heart of the island goddess Te Fiti, which seems to be the key to all life. But he is attacked on the way by a lava demon Te Ka, resulting in him losing his magical fish hook which gives him his powers, and the same also leaves him stranded at an unknown location. This is how the legend goes, and for the Polynesian island of Motunui, this is a common tale that the children are told. They are also forbidden from going beyond a certain point into the sea. Tui (Temuera Morrison), the chief of the island has the opinion that the island has all that they need, and that they should stick to the land. Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of the chief is someone who really wants to explore, but she is also prevented from doing the same.

So, what happens next? :: Soon, the food becomes scarce, as the landscape seems to be dying. There is almost no good fruit to eat, and not much of fish to be caught. Still, sailing beyond the reef remains an act prevented from happening. But Moana’s grandmother Tala (Rachel House), who is supposed to be just a crazy old woman, leads her to a secret cave which shows them that they used to be explorers who traveled through the sea to find new islands. After Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti, the journeys had stopped though, with monsters wandering around the ocean. With Te Ka’s lava and ashes spreading through the islands, there is only one hope – to get the heart to where it really belongs, with the help of Maui. Can she find and persuade the demigod in time to save the islands from the darkness that is spreading?

The defence of Moana :: The big advantage of this movie is that how well it connects and works for both children and the adults. It is the main characters that steal the show in this movie too, with Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson creating the big impact – the latter is a lot funny, closely followed only by the pet that gets into the boat with Moana. The bond between the two leading characters is emotional as well as cute, as you will notice right from the first time they meet. Moana is surely one or more steps ahead of the other animated characters of the same type. The movie nicely uses the Polynesian myth, and it is great to see more and more gods who are parts of different culture, especially those rather unknown. The songs are interesting, just like the simple heroine who keeps making an impact along with her partner in sailing. All the characters and the world look really nice.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing that is entirely new about its tale though, and with its source in the myth, we see the heroine who goes beyond the limitations that are imposed on her. The movie could have also used its beautiful world to an even better effect – we know that we love this world, and it is certain that we need more of it. After all, the scope is limitless with a world full of islands awaiting exploration. The message could have also been even more direct, with the wander lust and the need for adventure to be getting a better spot over mythology. The twist about the demon doesn’t go on to be that effective either. This one doesn’t have that much of flaws to make the viewer wonder, and there is nothing much to complain related to this adventure!

Soul exploration :: The movie’s main message is to search for the unknown, explore, and find new places. Moana goes through faith, belief and hope, and the courage and determination that is required to keep them all there. There is no longer the need for the heroine to chase love, and without romance, the focus is on all adventure and the clear objective that is to be gained for the common good. With sea making the call, and caught up on an island, there is always the need to go out there, and to be with the rest of the world. There are dangers that stay ahead, but it is up to us to go far beyond all of them with the strength that is gained from the experience that is added on the way. We are all caught with one thing or the other, and it seems so difficult in this world with the restrictions and the so called duties that come to us at one point or the other, but we need to go on.

How it finishes :: There is one thing that we can be sure about, after watching Moana. It is that the flick is surely better than the eventual winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature after being a tough contendor – Zootopia. I guess that the judgment went in favour of the cuter one this time; animals get to win over humans. I would consider this one to be better than the last two years’ winners Inside Out and Big Hero 6. The best animated movies of the year rarely get to be the best in the academy awards section, do they? There are only a few exceptions like Frozen. Toy Story 3 won when there was How to Train Your Dragon; Rango won when there was Kung Fu Panda 2; Big Hero 6 won when How to Train Your Dragon 2 was existing; Brave won when Rise of the Guardians was there. Well, Moana also has its list of accolades received – lets try watching it again and again!

Release date: 23rd November 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Oscar Kightley, Troy Polamalu, Puanani Cravalho

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Great Father

What is the movie about? :: David Nainan (Mammootty) is a successful builder, going through a happy and peaceful life with his wife Michelle (Sneha) and the only daughter Sarah (Baby Anikha). As David is a busy man with the construction work of his firm which has been growing fast and because Michelle is a reputed doctor in a big hospital, they rarely have enough time to spend with family though. Sarah is so proud of her father that she never misses the opportunity to boast about his status, not only as the successful person that he is, but even as a feared man even in the Mumbai underworld. He has told her some of those stories himself, most of which common people will feel exaggerated at the first time itself. Most of her friends don’t believe her as expected, and she even brings her grandfather’s gun to make them believe, and lands in trouble for the same.

So, what happens next? :: There is also the story of a pedophile serial killer, who ends up killing also the police officer, Samuel (Shaam) who investigates the case, and is believed to have some so close to catching the culprit. It is then that the new officer in charge of the investigation, Andrews Eapen (Arya) gets into the act. He is the new generation police officer who keeps his own style, and tries to get to the bottom of everything in one way or the other. As this series of parallel incidents threaten to destroy the happiness of his family, David tries to restore the same, as well as seek vengeance on the faceless evil which is so much becoming a part of his world. But for the same, he will have to go through Andrews Eapen who has decided to solve this by himself, and will accept no intervention in the case which he is investigating. So, where does that leave these two?

The defence of The Great Father :: The movie definitely looks nice, and there is the stylish treatment to go with. There is the suspense maintained, even though this investigation never really progresses on the clues gathered, as the focus is more on how awesome the superhero dad is so that he will know everything and anything is possible for him. Coulrophobia is something that you can successfully gain with this movie, and if that happens, it is also a case of success for this flick; still, a psychopath clown has never really been part of our culture, which could lead to partial alienation here. With the recent news, the theme that the movie chooses is also something which is relevant. For someone who is coming up with his first movie, the director has managed things well, without letting things go through the path of movies like Gangster. Mammootty fans are surely going to love this, as this one has proven to be a nice entertainer.

The claws of flaw :: This movie needed to get rid of its slow motion – it is not part of the style, not anymore. There is also too much of sunshades being used, and using the same for style is rather shameless when repeated so many times. A character in the movie asks about the need for jacket in this hot climate, and it is the correct question, and it is another shameless addition. There is also too much of superhero stuff here, and everything is just too easy for the hero here, which is often irritating – the movie’s social relevance gets degraded by this, as style, mass and heroism are not those elements which could best support a cause. One often wonders why what should have been the main focus becomes something of secondary interest with the two heroes right there in front? Along with the same, there is the certainty of the lack of ideas with the villain, his name being used and also with his mask and imagery – joker and the clown! From early Batman to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight to Stephen King’s It? Even about the guns being too quick? Seriously? And who would blur the image of a gun?

Performers of the soul :: Most of the movie is more like custom made for Mammootty, and he undoubtedly shines in this avatar – all the style gets brought to him here. It is what makes this a celebration for his fans, and this might be the grand return to form that the great veteran actor wanted for quite some time after that break that succeeded Pathemari and Puthiya Niyamam. Arya gets the secondary chance to shine, and he doesn’t go that far beyond despite being given too strange a police officer role to perform. Anikha is a child actor who could have had better than what she had in this movie considering the potential; sadly, the same is not there, even after she gets to perform more after those first thirty minutes of considerable irritation with boasting and boring talks. The movie, from the beginning itself, doesn’t allow kids to be kids, which is rather strange in what has been called more of a movie that was to appeal to the families.

Further performers of the soul :: Sneha gets limited to being the wife of a superhero, and that is all for her – this never really seems to come close to changing. Malavika Mohanan with all the looks and intensity, also gets side-lined here. With Pattam Pole, the one big bad movie, and Nirnaayakam which became the torrent hit, she surely needs more movies to bring the potential. Miya George is just quick to come, make a visit again, and then just go again not to be seen again – her last big role was in Paavada in 2016 opposite Prithviraj Sukumaran, and wonders why she is not seen on the big screens here that much she should have been. Kalabhavan Shajohn also gets less of a screen presence here. When you look at this as a whole, it is a solar system with Mammootty as the sun, and the rest are planets who just rotate and revolve around him; at least Arya get to be Jupiter; sometimes he even gets to be Saturn – he even gathers his own satellites in the process starting with one lady police officer character.

How it finishes :: The Great Father is known to have broken many collection records already, starting from the first day itself. I couldn’t find a ticket on the first day of its release. This one follows the path set by C/O Saira Banu and Take Off while dealing with incidents having social relevance. The Great Father does stick to what the earlier promotional material was promising to deliver, and the movie is surely better than the teaser. What you will really need to avoid are those terrible dialogues by the kids in the beginning, and those slow motion fight scenes that go towards the end. What you need to look forward to, along with Mammootty, is the looks of the whole thing here, and the theme that it deals with. Well, the thrills and the suspense factor will play along in between, even though this is no Memories with one serial killer ready to bring the big twist, and having no overdose of super-heroism! With Georgettan’s Pooram also there, this one tries and edges ahead in style.

Release date: 30th March 2017
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Haneef Adeni
Starring: Mammootty, Arya, Sneha, Baby Anikha, Malavika Mohanan, Miya George, Shaam, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Santhosh Keezhatoor, IM Vijayan, Balaji Sharma, Sunil Sukhada, Rony Davis, Prajod Kalabhavan, Mukundan, Sohan Seenulal, Shaji Nadesan, Anup Pazhayakada, Deepak Parambol, Aaryan Krishna Menon, Anu Joseph

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Georgettan’s Pooram

Vampire Owl: Why is it that all these people have characters that have something or the other to highlight as a title?

Vampire Bat: You mean, like that first Malayalam movie to release this year – Jomonte Suvisheshangal.

Vampire Owl: And surely Jacobinte Swargarajyam.

Vampire Bat: Along with Darwinte Parinamam.

Vampire Owl: As well as Maheshinte Prathikaram.

Vampire Bat: This is the fifth with this kind of a title, there is no real difference in possessiveness.

Vampire Owl: I think that these people, George, Jomon, Darwin, Jacob and Mahesh are related.

Vampire Bat: There is a great chance that Jacob and Jomon are – they even tell the same story, you know.

Vampire Owl: Maybe they are from different generations, and it is just history repeating itself in a distant family.

Vampire Bat: Georgettan’s Pooram might be more distant with the use of slang in it, though.

[Gets the tickets with some caramel popcorn and vegetable puffs].

What is the movie about? :: A team of four mischievous boys have grown up to be George Vadakkan (Dileep), and his best friends who are known only by their nicknames, Vava (Vinay Forrt), Pallan (Sharfudheen) and Chullan (Thiru Actlab). Living in and around the city of Trichur, the four friends spend most of their time doing nothing, having drinks or simply sleeping, in Mathai Parambu, a piece of land donated to the public by a former Kabbadi player who was part of great achievements from the Indian Kabbadi team – they also have for company and old kabbadi player, Joseph (T.G. Ravi). But George’s father, the parish priest of the local church of the Mar Thoma denomination, Mathew Vadakkan (Renji Panicker), wishes for something or anything better for his son – nobody believes in the same though, even his own friends and relatives.

So, what happens next? :: As the four goes through the path which leads nowhere, George comes across Merlin (Rajisha Vijayan) during a funeral, and immediately falls in love with her. Even though she tells him that he wishes to become a nun and despite the fact that she belongs to another denomination, he shamelessly decides to run after her for love. Without having to do anything else in life, such things have been very easy for him. There is also the entry of Peter Mathai (Chemban Vinod Jose), who claims to be the son of E.V. Mathai and claims the ownership of Mathai Parambu. He seems to be determined to take control of land by one way or the other. But the team of four are not willing to give up their place, and in an effort to save their land as well as to make Merlin fall in love with George, they go on doing some strange things, none of which works well enough.

What follows these events? :: The team of four are clueless as usual, as they are used to do nothing good, and seems to come up with nothing constructive. Even their inspiration, Joseph dies by falling from the top of a tower there. One day, Peter seems to be ready to give up the claim to the land, but for the same, George and his friends will have to play kabbadi, and also start winning. The people of the locality also backs them in this to keep the land in the hands of the public. But is it possible for them to win against top level players with some quick training? How far can the public support and prayers boost them? Is Peter really the son of E.V. Mathai, and does he mean what he says? Can George manage to win the love of Merlin and the appreciation of his parents and siblings? Not really the easier things to do for George, but he decides not to give up.

The defence of Georgettan’s Pooram :: Despite not using the state award winning actress, the star of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, Rajisha Vijayan to her best of potential, the movie does manage to use Dileep well enough – we get to be confident that he will be back for more with another light-hearted movie, not just producing one like he did for Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. Vinay Forrt and Sharafudheen also remains interesting, and there is entertainment guaranteed from their side. The level of comedy is fluctuating throughout the movie, but there are some nice ones in this flick. The second half has things getting rather intense, and the plot gets an upgrade there. Chemban Vinod Jose once again impresses the audience with the way that he carries on as the man with a mission, and he remains our hope for future in a lot of different kinds of roles. Renji Panicker continues what he has been doing the best, as the father figure, and this time at more than one level.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is just too long, and it could have easily been made shorter without some bad jokes in the first half and those slow motion sequences of heroism in the second – Karinkunnam 6s had managed to bring volleyball to the centre of everything and managed to be an interesting flick; but this one gets kabbadi too late in the second half only, and things get serious slowly only. Sudheer Karamana gets to play kabbadi here as he had done for volleyball in last year’s Manju Warrier starrer. A certain amount of absence in logic is also there, and the movie also gets confused in working with the Christian denominations. If the priest shown as protagonist’s father is actually a priest of Mar Thoma denomination, as a protestant church, the church building or the house wouldn’t be having saints or statues of anyone. If the person was intended to be a Catholic priest, he wouldn’t have been married – it is a strange world right there. One also wonders why the protagonist has to go after the girl shamelessly after she says no – shouldn’t the “no” always mean a “no”? And still he is a hero?

How it finishes :: Georgettan’s Pooram could have done a lot better not only with its comedy, but also with its sporting side. But as it is now, it is surely a watchable flick, and the best entertainer with Dileep as the main character after Two Countries which had him at what he has been doing the best. The protagonist shouldn’t have turned a super kabbadi player all of a sudden though, battling against the big players. Maybe some restraint could have been brought with the heroism. Maybe, a better flow could have been maintained. But for some time-pass, nobody can deny that this movie has something here and there for most of the people. Surely bigger in fun compared to Dileep’s recent movies, and surely better than any movie in that long list of continuous movies from Kammath and Kammath to Ivan Maryadaraman, Georgettan’s Pooram can ask for some of your time as long as you enough to spare!

Release date: 1st April 2017
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: K. Biju
Starring: Dileep, Rajisha Vijayan, Chemban Vinod Jose, Vinay Forrt, Sharafudheen, Thiru Actlab, Renji Panicker, T. G. Ravi, Sudheer Karamana, Kalaranjini, Assim Jamal, Jayaraj Warrier, Sunil Sukhada, Sathi Premji, Kulappulli Leela

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.