Mohan Kumar Fans

What is the movie about? :: Mohan Kumar (Siddique) used to be a huge superstar until he lost the race to the younger stars. He does believe that it was the result of black magic done by his rival actors. After a long gap, he does get a role to play in a critically acclaimed movie, for which everyone feels that he will get an award. His daughter Sreeranjini Mohankumar (Anarkali Nazar), is an interior designer who wishes to be a singer, for which she tries her luck in different reality shows. Krishnan Unni (Kunchacko Boban), is a youngster who is also trying to make it big as a playback singer. They meet at a reality show, and he is also sent to work for Mohan Kumar as the driver by Prakash (Mukesh), his old friend and a struggling producer who is trying to make a film with Kripesh aka Aghosh Menon (Vinay Forrt), a young superstar who is extremely arrogant, and thinks that he is above everyone. Krishnan Unni and Sreeranjini start competing in the reality show, mostly as a team, and Mohan Kumar also becomes fond of the young man who is there to help him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Kripesh continues to try to make a name in the industry, as his fame rises, and tells everyone that his living together partner Brighty Menon (Deepa Thomas) is a sisterly figure, and fakes different events in which he is shown as a man with love and respect, raising his popularity even higher with PR work. When Arun Rajeev (Adil Ibrahim) and Prakash approaches him with a new film script, his demands only get higher. Meanwhile it is just another downwards journey for the former star, as the critical acclaimed film is taken out of the theatres much to the dismay of Mohan Kumar, who felt that he was going back to that stardom with all the appreciation he received, even more than Kripesh who was originally supposed to be the hero, but was sidelined in front of his fantastic performance. After a fight with Hamsa Randathani (Nisthar Sait), his name is nicely taken out of the Kerala state awards final list, but there is still hope for National Awards – yet, it is to be seen if they can find a way to take it to Delhi with time running out, and a lot more to be done.

The defence of Mohan Kumar Fans :: The movie’s messages are strong, for it is against the vanity and arrogance which has been going on in the film industry. The lack of quality in the visual media is also shown, and it also displays YouTube, Instagram and other social media as what it is, showing how celebrities use fake videos or good for nothing videos just to gain popularity, while skilled performers and quality actors don’t get the recognition they need. Well, if one actress stand outside her home and take a video, it gains so many viewers and appreciation, and it more or less shows the same. Well, you know that literacy means the ability to read and write, and with so many videos being preferred over written content, one has to wonder if it is because of the lack of literacy among people. Our YouTube-Instagram loving celebrities in the film might be suffering from that illiteracy too. It is shown with very nicely prepared humour with fine satire, and the feel-good factor is also high around here. The songs are just okay, and it is not short of some touching moments.

The claws of flaw :: As this movie makes fun of a certain group of people and says the truth about them, such people won’t like it – especially the blind superstar fans, creators of nonsense in YouTube and Instagram as well as those so called celebrities who try to become popular by fake means. For others, they will surely like the film, but they won’t be able to dismiss the fact that this should have had more depth with its content. Mohan Kumar Fans is that kind of a film which could have taken each of its strong elements into another level, but it is certainly not able to do that because it has chosen to travel through a safe path – the feel-good side can always get you over the line, but if you stick on to that, and play safe, it is like aiming for run-a-ball in an IPL match when there is good chance for stroke-play. Maybe, they did so because there was not much of a competition in the theatres with less number of big Malayalam films being released and less number of people watching in the theatres – but that would just be an excuse if we think so.

The performers of the soul :: This one comes after the director’s films which have maintained the feel-good factor at some point, starting with Bicycle Thieves, my least favourite film in a long time, the definite improvement in Sunday Holiday, the bigger improvement in Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and now this film, which also has Asif Ali in a cameo, making all these films Asif starrers. Well, you know that who else was there in all these movies, and it is Siddique, with his biggest role in this movie, as he is the real protagonist here, with everything centered around him, and all things being about him only. It ultimately becomes all about the positive message that is spread through his life, and in that, this movie races ahead of all among the director Jis Joy’s movies, except Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, which was much more ahead in the race. Siddique, the veteran actor, nicely stays at the core of the film, and manages everything in his usual style. If this much was done in a feel-good film, you can guess how much more could have been done if this was a serious tragedy.

Further performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban outside the thriller mode of Nizhal and Nayattu, does have his moments, as he is indeed the hero here, trying to keep the main character happy and ready to take the risks just for the sake of the man. Anarkali Nazar is a lovely addition here, as we see her for the first time, and despite the introduction not being that great, we see that the emotions work really well for her. Among the rest, it is Vinay Forrt who stays with us the most, with one of the best satires on the superstars who can’t really act, but tries to get mileage through videos posted in YouTube, Instagram or any social media. As video medium attracts the illiterate and those who find it difficult to read English, these celebrities get more attention that they need, and being as fake as the character he displays here, their first option will always be YouTube to fake their life in front of the blind fans, who will share the same in social media, displaying their foolishness as much as they can. After Saroj Kumar, his Aagosh Menon strikes gold with the satire.

How it finishes :: Mohan Kumar Fans does take an approach which the movies like Driving Licence didn’t have the courage to take. Instead of taking the side of the common man, it had stood with the superstar and his fans. This movie is courageous in that case, taking the side of the common people, and it focuses on the gracious actor instead of the dumb superstar, the dumbness of the latter nicely shown throughout the film, and it also shows everything fake that has been running through YouTube. We keep seeing those celebrities doing YouTube videos, and we know that they are all fake, but there will always be those people who watch such nonsense posted by such people who are only looking for fame. Well, if a celebrity post any nonsense on YouTube, everyone wants to watch that, and if something sensible is posted on YouTube by the common man, you know how it is left unnoticed – it is such an age, when quality is not rewarded, a common problem with the visual media in comparison to the written one. This is the same reason why people who are looking for easy paths to success without hard work won’t like this flick. For others, this works in varying levels of interest, mostly on the higher levels.

Release date: 19th March 2021 (Theatre), 21st May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Anarkali Nazar, Siddique, Mukesh, Sreenivasan, Saiju Kurup, Vinay Forrt, Ramesh Pisharody, TG Ravi, Alencier Ley Lopez, Major Ravi, Joy Mathew, Krishna Shankar, Adil Ibrahim, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Deepa Thomas, Srikant Murali, Anjali Nair, Prasanth Alexander, Sreelakshmi, Sethu Lakshmi, Nisthar Sait

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Amazon Prime film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kho Kho

What is the movie about? :: Maria Francis (Rajisha Vijayan) is appointed as a PT teacher in a girls’ school, in the remote area of a village which is surrounded by backwaters. She is forced to take up the job because her husband Ben (Venkitesh VP) was facing failure in business, and was in requirement of the money. Maria used to be a sprinter, and was very close to representing India at an international level when something terrible happened in her life. At the new school, the two people who is in support of her activities are the peon Shivaprasad (Renjit Shekar Nair) and the accountant Vinod (Rahul Riji Nair), the latter being doubtful about the requirement for a PT teacher in the school, yet being interested in Maria. After some days of doing almost nothing in the school which has historically given no importance to arts and sports, she decides to create a kho-kho team for the first time in school history, a move much appreciated by the headmaster.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: With a confused but hardworking team led by the stubborn Anju (Mamitha Baiju) who has her own mood swings and not missing her chance to pick up a fight, Maria hopes to make history through her students, and achieve greatness which she couldn’t earlier due to circumstances. The parents of the students are against the students choosing sports instead of using that time for studies, and do not appreciate the fact that the girls are going somewhere far away to compete. But as they qualify for the district level competitions, they do manage to gain a certain amount of support. The girls’ problem related to balancing studies and sports, their problem with wearing shorts within a conservative world and Anju’s attraction towards Shivaprasad might be the least of the problems with Maria will have to face here. Can she and Anju lead the team towards seemingly impossible victories and an even more elusive final triumph?

The defence of Kho-Kho :: Depending more on the emotions than anything else, Kho-Kho also has the usual moments of thrill with the games. It is the common motivational story of the underdogs who had no chance, but with hardwork and inspired performance, comes out victorious against all odds. The characters and the setting become interesting in this case, as this goes through life of common people for most of the time. We also have some nice visuals to go with the same. There are many exciting scenes here to remember too. The struggles of the characters involved here are shown well, especially the two main characters played by Rajisha and Mamitha. The feeling which was provided by Finals is somewhat repeated in this movie, and if you had like that movie, this will be on your favourite sports drama list too. The songs are pretty good, and they go on well with the visuals as well as the mood, and so does the background music. Unlike Chak De! India and Dangal, this is the real woman-centric film with empowerment, and without those unnecessary superstar exaggerations, and that feels true to life in many ways.

The claws of flaw :: Kho-Kho is certainly not that big as Finals, the other film with the same actress in the lead. The background story which keeps on moving silently is not that strong when we look at it. The premise feels similar to other movies, and we can predict a lot of things which are going to happen here. A number of training scenes and events are more repetitive rather than trying to do something different or unpredictable. To add to it, some dialogues actually look more artificial, right out of paper, rather than coming with the emotional weight. Venkitesh is also very much underused in another movie after The Priest limited him, and Thattumpurath Achuthan‘s song presence had made us feel that he would be a regular full presence. More of the girls in the cast should have got more attention though, at least half of them. The release of the movie on Asianet was delayed by a week, and it was Drishyam 2 which had its television release then, a disappointing decision from the channel which might have kept some people away.

The performers of the soul :: We have seen Rajisha Vijayan only in a few movies, and among them, we have seen such great skill. We have seen her in the grand performances from Anuraga Karikkin Vellam which brought her the Kerala State Award for Best Actress, through the nostalgia-inducing coming-of-age story of June, to the earlier sports drama of high acclaim, Finals. It is to be noted that in both sports drama, Rajisha plays a character with a tragedy to go with both life and career. With her role beginning as the trainer, the tragic background was established much earlier here. Rajisha once again has the whole thing in control here, and from the beginning to the end, it is a determined as well as emotional performance. Well, Finals was the best movie of the season when it released, but many people missed the work on the big screen, and the same is the case here too due to COVID-19, and it seems that the early television premieres are changing some of the situation here, with everyone getting the needed access not too late.

Further performers of the soul :: Mamitha Baiju who was also seen in Operation Java plays the captain of the team, and plays her role in a very much believable manner, with all the emotions and determination required for the role. She will surely be a talent to look out for, with more of similar roles. There is the rage and a flurry of emotions that she comes up with, which suits very well for her character with a troubled past. Unlike the character she played in the Balu Varghese starrer, the energy here is intense. Venkitesh VP as the protagonist’s husband has only a limited role, and we are still hoping to see him in bigger roles, like we have wanted all those actors and actresses in the Naayika Naayakan reality show to come out with their performances on the big screen. Renjit Shekar Nair and the director himself – Rahul Riji Nair comes up with good supporting performances. Vettukili Prakash’s role might have felt unnecessary. The cast of girls in the team is also nicely done, and at least quarter of them stay with us by the end, even though not more than one or two gets extra attention.

How it finishes :: Kho-Kho is another sports drama which you don’t need to miss, and it is also a film which goes through the base level of the game, without overdoing the same. Just like Finals, it is nice to see another sport with lesser fans getting all the attention, and not the highly fan favourite Indian sport of cricket or football which comes second. Cricket never really required movies as support, but some sports can have films made on them to bring out interest back to them, and this is the same case happening here. The movie is a reminder of a sport which is often left unnoticed among the bigger names. Kho-Kho is a film that can have even a sequel with this content, and there are times when it also reminds us of Godha, which brought back memories of wrestling as a sport. These are indeed the films which needs our support, and not those overrated stuff which has wandered around with a lot of hype and no substance. Kho-Kho needs to come back to television or release on Amazon Prime at some point to expand its horizons.

Release date: 14th April 2021 (Theatre), 28th May 2021 (Asianet)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Mamitha Baiju, Renjit Shekar Nair, Venkitesh VP, Vettukili Prakash, Arjun Ranjan, Sreejith Babu, Jeo Baby, Geethi Sangeetha, Rahul Riji Nair

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hollywood review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aarkkariyam

What is the movie about? :: Ittyavira (Biju Menon) is a retired mathematics teacher who is spending his time alone in a village in the district of Kottayam. At the same time, his daughter Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) and her second husband Roy (Sharafudheen) are living in Andheri, Mumbai, and are planning to come back to Kerala after some time, despite the COVID-19 restrictions being further imposed everywhere. The coming of Corona has kept all of them in their own space, without much contact with outside world, and the spread of Corona virus had also brought some financial crisis to Roy and Shirley. The former’s business was already failing and there is no success in mutual fund either. The two manage to come all the way to Kerala to Shirley’s hometown and meet Ittyvira, who is really happy to see them. But they are also not able to meet their daughter, as the borders are closed. They apply for permission, but soon, a nation-wide lock-down is imposed, and they are all stuck there in their home in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The lock-down changes their lives by a long way, and the restrictions reach their place too. The already interior home now feels even more away from civilization. This is the time when people were only beginning to understand the COVID-19 situation, and everyone was expecting all these problems to be solved as the virus would eradicated in the end of lock-down. One of the consignments of Roy is now stuck with the customs, and without that, there is nothing much that can be done. Now, the only way to get some quick money so that they can pay back Vyshak (Saiju Kurup) is by selling the ancestral lands, and it is Ittyvira who provides them that idea. But there are some complications related to the same, as there seems to be some secrets from the past which need to be taken care of. Roy begins to feel uncomfortable about the same, but there is nothing that he can do, other than worry about the same.

The defence of Aarkkariyam :: Aarkkariyam would seem to be a usual film in a village setting, but it is surely more than that – we get the idea only later though. Every moment in this movie nicely contributes to keep it going, and it is not that long either with each second in there used in an interesting manner. It does have that fine punch at the interval, something that makes the film take another route from the second half. The title itself is a worthy one here, as we keep wondering who all knows about a number of things including a sinister event and a person who was involved in the same. The performance of the three main characters elevates the film further, and the supporting cast is also interesting. The surroundings are nicely created, and the feeling of Pala-Kanjirappilly area is given with the rural touch everywhere, from the people to the environment. The film also focuses on the different opinions that different people would have about one person, and how polarized the same happens to be – how one can pretend to be good among the common people.

The claws of flaw :: Aarkkariyam is not the kind of movie which you would expect, as it has a certain deviation in store there. It is also slow at times, and there are lots of moments when nothing happens, even though they do contribute to the mood. There is also the presence of some usual cliché stuff here, but the same will go on and pass. Even if it feels like family drama, it doesn’t suit into that genre completely, and one would have doubt about the kind of audience it is actually looking for – even though we can keep it for the common audience in general. A little bit more of the moments in Mumbai and their return to hometown as well as a few twists in between would have helped more, even if it would deviate further away from the genre. It was an opportunity for something more, and there was the chance to be a classic, but the film manages to keep it going straight and without adding any special ingredient into it – maybe because there was the feeling that it was not needed, like Kungfu Panda would agree.

The performers of the soul :: This movie, as expected has Biju Menon with a performance to remember, and that too with a different kind of work. He has embraced this role like Vijayaraghavan did, as he moved from the usual kind of hero to the senior roles. Much elder to Biju Menon, he would be the one we would expect in a role like this, something which he has done in earlier films, but not as the protagonist like we see here. We know that other older superstars are still playing the characters of lower age group, but Biju Menon has had the courage to take it to the next level. If we remember his last few films, we will see that this difference in looks has come unexpected, and by a long way. Even as everything is kept simple about the character, there is always something to remember with this act. There are also those simple dialogues will stay, and sometimes come back – it is one realistic performance to remember as we look at it.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is indeed about Biju Menon, but others do play their part too. Parvathy Thiruvothu once again has a role to remember, as she blends in here nicely, just like she has done so many times with ease not limited to her most appreciated performances in Uyare, Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. She does get pushed to the background though, as the film progresses. It is also nice to see Sharafudheen in a serious role this time. We have been so much used to see him in those comic roles, except for that villainy in Varathan and the psychotic side in Anjaam Pathira, but those were kind of exaggerated when we have a look back – this is really a fine change here from the early comic side in Premam and the same later in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. The two match with their performances, and the cast has worked really well. Saiju Kurup plays the supporting role in the usual kind of way, but could have been part of more of the action too. Shoba Mohan is the only person here who gives the feeling that we have seen the person before.

How it finishes :: The first movie directed by cinematographer Sanu John Varghese is not something that we can leave behind. This is the kind of movie which I would have surely watched in the theatre early enough, if there was no COVID-19. It was a good decision to release this one on Amazon Prime Video along with Neestream, Roots Video and Cave OTT platforms because most of us were always going to watch it on Prime Video only – it is still difficult to find the movie there because of the spelling required to be exactly as it is when searching, and surprisingly it is also not on the list of the new film releases on Amazon. But we do get to it anyway, and during this time of lock-down and triple lock-down in Kerala, this is the kind of movie that reminds us of last year’s lock-down exactly as it is, and it is more or less a realistic experience that we go through – the kind which we had seen in Joji, and also in Nayattu even though this one keeps the thriller side at a distance.

Release date: 1st April 2021 (Theatre), 19th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video, Neestream, Roots Video, Cave)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Sanu John Varghese
Starring: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen, Arya Salim, Ganga G Nair, Saiju Kurup, Thejaswi Praveen, Shoba Mohan, Jacob George, Pramod Veliyanad

<— Click here to go to the previous film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous superstar film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wonder Woman 1984

Vampire Owl: It has been too long since we wanted to watch Wonder Woman.

Vampire Bat: I thought that we wanted to watch Black Widow more.

Vampire Owl: Yes, that too, but this is a sequel, and we will end up forgetting the first film.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is like we have almost completely forgotten Avengers too.

Vampire Owl: Nobody forgets the Avengers.

Vampire Bat: Everybody forgets everyone, not just Avengers. It is only a matter of time.

Vampire Owl: Vampires have their memories towards eternity.

Vampire Bat: Not at all vampires. There are levels.

Vampire Owl: Levels like in Super Mario?

Vampire Bat: Not exactly. But existence for a long period of time matters.

[Gets some french fries and three cups of grape juice].

What is the movie about? :: In 1984, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) works at the Smithsonian Group in Washington DC, and in a flashback, we see that when she was little, she had taken a shortcut to win a tournament among the Amazons. There, Antiope (Robin Wright), the general of the Amazon Army had told her there are no shortcuts, and everything has to achieved with honesty, and her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), the queen of Themyscira had agreed on the same. Even though Diana is doing the usual kind of job in the 1980s, she is also going through the superhero stuff. In the same city, Barbara Minverva (Kristen Wiig) lives, and as a new recruit to The Smithsonian, meets Diana. Barbara is not popular at all, and she feels that nobody likes her. People usually walk around her as if she doesn’t exist, and she is highly disappointed about that kind of treatment with even her name being forgotten.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Barbara becomes friends with Diana very soon, and they notice one item, a stone that contains a Latin inscription which claimed to grant the holder one wish. Barbara wishes that she becomes as good as Diana in all ways, while Diana wishes that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) comes back to her. They see both wishes being fulfilled very soon, as Barbara finds herself stronger and sharper, as well as liked by everyone around her – she finds out that even her body structure has undergone some change, and she is no longer the clumsy person she used to be, along with finding herself able to lift heavy objects. At the same time, Steve has returned as his soul has possessed another man (Kristoffer Polaha) whose original form can be seen in the mirror reflections. The confusion of entering a new world is with Steve, but with Maxwell Lorenzano (Pedro Pascal) trying to get that stone, it will be the least of their problems.

The defence of Wonder Woman 1984 :: We do feel that the original essence of Wonder Woman is maintained up to an extent, even though it is indeed faded when do a comparison with the previous film. There are some fine action sequences, even though we should have had more grandeur. The best fight is the one in the White House, and showing the helplessness of superheroes making connection with the audience works most of the time. It manages to keep its level high enough among the other DC movies if we make more comparisons with more. The characters in the film are nicely linked with the tale’s progress, and how it finally sets things well for a possible sequel later. There is the message that goes against selfish motive, and going for your desire without thinking about others – against those people who are completely into their ambitions as if people around them do not matter. The setting of 1980s also work really well, and there is a lot of background here that works nicely.

The claws of flaw :: A movie on Wonder Woman can always be better, and there is no doubt about it, for we know what happened in the first film. There could have been more fight scenes around here, and the action could have been bigger. The last fight with the two characters in strange costumes makes things rather weird instead of making everything better in quality. Cheetah should have been a case of terror much earlier as the only character worthy of giving a fight, and should have really had a costume to go with the villainy. The fun that superhero movies usually have, and the dark side that the DC films have had, are not here to make the impact on both sides. The film only gets more and more predictable in its run, and its more and more so by the end. There are moments when CGI doesn’t look that good, especially when the protagonist in the air. There are moments when the movie also feels stretched, and this time even the cameo between credits feel unnecessary.

Performers of the soul :: Gal Gadot, as we always know does remain the strength of the movie, even though there is the feeling of tiredness here in comparison to original Wonder Woman and Justice League. She manages this role very well, as we would expect her too, and the feeling that Wonder Woman brings is different from Marvel’s Captain Marvel – a feeling which is not always easy to manage, but is done really well here. Among these lady superheroes, the gap between Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel is rather too high, with latter as a character is not the person we love. Kristen Wiig does make a pretty good villain character as she handles the spirit, but not much of a Cheetah that we had expected, despite the first half of the movie had her nicely set, even though in a predictable manner. Pedro Pascal does well as the villain who causes the big trouble. Chris Pine returns, but despite everyone having needed the same, this is short-lived.

How it finishes :: This version of Wonder Woman doesn’t match up to the original, and that point is made clear very early into the movie itself. Well, we are sure that it is not possible to match the skill of Marvel here, but we did expect an exception in this case, which didn’t happen though. There was the chance of making some great action sequences here, but they are limited, and Cheetah itself could have been further grand. When we consider the grand scheme about the last movie, this one surely trails behind. But with the entertainment that the movie provides, it is always nice to have another superhero during these times of trouble. The film also has its moments, and we get this on Amazon Prime Video at a time when we are in lockdown. During these times of COVID-19, stay at home, and thus stay safe. After all, entertainment keeps more people at home than anything else. At the same time, let us hope for a better tomorrow.

Release date: 16th December 2020 (United Kingdom), 25th December 2020 (United States), 15th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hollywood review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Operation Java

What is the movie about? :: Anthony George (Balu Varghese) and Vinaya Dasan (Lukman) are two unemployed youth who have finished Engineering. Things are not easy for them, as finding a job had become more difficult than ever, and they have been trying for a job for such a long time, with neighbours and relatives ridiculing their situation. They manage to change things around as they provide a new perspective to a film piracy case cyber cell office providing a new perspective to a famous film piracy case related to the film, Premam. The police decides to reopen the case and conduct further investigation with their help. This leads them to Jerry (Mathew Thomas) and Anjali (Anju Mary Thomas) who are studying in the same school, and finally they get to the person behind all the trouble. Still, the credit of solving the case goes to the crime branch. Anthony’s former classmate and lover, Alphonsa (Mamitha Baiju) who is a nurse, also leaves him because she gets an offer from Ireland, with a grand salary package.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: When there is the chance for an internship in a cyber cell, the police officers call the two to join as the officers Prathap Chandran (Irshad) and Joy Pulimoottil (Binu Pappu) recommend them due to their previous service. The two come across different cases, most of which are the result of carelessness. There are the usual cases of cheating through Facebook, OTP etc among others which are of even more serious nature. The only media favourite case was that of Ramanathan (Vinayakan) and Janaki (Dhanya Ananya) who are trying to prove that the latter is not a part of a video. But soon, they come across a case filed by Anthony’s former lover Alphonsa who had lost more than two lakhs of rupees which she had given for a job in Ireland. The newcomers are asked to find the details of the case. But this case won’t be the only thing that they will have to worry about. This journey with the cyber cell would decide their future.

The defence of Operation Java :: There are many things that Operation Java shows without pretensions, as this is indeed a realistic work on the lines of Action Hero Biju, but without the superstar power. Almost everything here feels real, and with the usual cybercrime cases being mentioned, this stays close to what usually happens with people, and is shown in news channels. During these times when cybercrimes continue to be on the rise, the film also serves as a reminder to what all can happen, and the title Java seems to point to the computer language of the same name more than anything else. There is also the situation of the new graduates who don’t have a job shown here through the lives of the two main characters, and that can also be seen in some of the crimes being investigated here. Loss of cash from account through online means, creating fake videos and making them viral, online job scams have made part of news on many occasions.

Positives and negatives :: Operation Java might not be the movie for everyone, as there will also be people looking for the superhero mode when there is a police investigation, even though Anjaam Pathira and Forensic did make certain move against the same, minimizing action, and maximizing the focus on the procedure of finding the culprit. But you will know that this is as much enjoyable as anything else. The final case in the movie is indeed the most interesting of them all, even though there are lots of interesting things related the cyber cell happening in between. The fights which happen in between are also as realistic as it can get. When the film released, people might have been confused about what kind of a movie this was, but that problem is solved for now, and the OTT platforms deserve your presence now. The film has that kind of a cast, the type which seems to be so perfectly done, and we can expect wonders from them too.

The performers of the soul :: Balu Varghese in a serious role here instead of the usual stuff has proven to be a welcome change. He along with Lukman who was part of Unda earlier, makes a fine combination. They go through those realistic moments really well. There is also a certain amount of humour, and they go through the emotional side nicely too. The two are more or less like the usual type of people whom we see around. Shine Tom Chacko makes a nice entry in the final moments of the film, and as usual, he is great to watch – he enters realistic mode with ease. Irshad and Binu Pappu plays two likable police officers of the cyber cell, while Prasanth Alexander plays the role of the not too likable one around, as all these supporting characters leave some good moments for us to remember, with everyone being the common people and not superhuman officers who keep hunting criminals with their special skills.

Further performers of the soul :: The female characters are not given much of importance in this film, even though there is one lady police officer in the cyber cell. Even though Vinitha Koshy of Aanandam and Luca fame is here as the biggest female name on the list, she is seen for only a few minutes as a murder victim as the film nears the end. Dhanya Ananya surely has some of the most emotional moments, even when she is not speaking, but she along with Vinayakan who plays her husband doesn’t get screen time at all. Vinayakan was in most of the posters, maybe to bring more viewers into interest here. Other female cast includes Anju Mary Thomas and Rithu Manthra who don’t have screen space either. Mamitha Baiju is the only one who has something enough to do here, and she does her job quite well. P Balachandran and Johny Antony are also on the screen for very few minutes, while Mathew Thomas of Kumbalangi Nights and Thanneermathan Dinangal fame is there for that much short time period too.

How it finishes :: Operation Java is one of the movies which released directly in the theatre when the COVID-19 lockdown on theatres was lifted. It had received many positive reviews then, and is now available on ZEE 5 along with having the television premiere on ZEE Keralam. The message about the unemployed youth and awareness on cybercrimes adds to the movie’s advantages. At a time when the police investigation films continue to slide towards becoming mass entertainers, Operation Java stands apart, and can inspire some of the other industries with superstars to think beyond. As the film is now in OTT platform, one can choose to watch it from anywhere in the world, and we can expect it to come back to ZEE Keralam on multiple occasions too. Do watch the film, as these are type of movies which can keep our world realistic rather than inside escapism. There was Nayattu which released earlier, and this adds to that realistic world.

Release date: 12th February 2021 (Theatre), 15th May 2021 (ZEE 5 & ZEE Keralam)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Tharun Moorthy
Starring: Balu Varghese, Lukman, Shine Tom Chacko, Vinayakan, Prasanth Alexander, Binu Pappu, Irshad, Vinitha Koshy, Dhanya Ananya, Dinesh Prabhakar, Mamitha Baiju, Mathew Thomas, Johny Antony, P Balachandran, Anju Mary Thomas, Sanjay K Nair, Rithu Manthra, Deepak Vijayan, Eldho Raju, Ramesh Chandran, Sreeja Ajith, Sunil Meleppuram, Shiny Zara, Anil Kumar, Dilshana Dilshad, Althaf Salim

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<— Click here to go to the previous Hollywood review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nizhal

What is the movie about? :: John Baby (Kunchacko Boban), a district court judge gets into a car accident after being in a fight with rash bike rider. After the accident, he begins to see things, and when there is sunshine, he keeps seeing dark clouds and rain. His psychatrist Dr TP Basheer (Rajesh Hebbar) tells him that it is just post-traumatic stress which will be over in a few days. He is also forced to wear a mask to make sure his damaged nose wouldn’t suffer any more damage, and will stay stable. He is not able to continue with his job as he used to, and his senior, Ajith Kumar (Saiju Kurup) is doubtful about his mental status. His best friend Rajan (Rony David) and wife Shalini (Divya Prabha) helps him, as latter is also a psychologist. From Shalini, he gets to know about a boy named Nitin (Izin Hash) who had written a story of murder when teachers had told the students to do some creative writing exercise. The teachers are concerned because as a child, he was supposed to write about things less terrifying by a long way.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As this has him interested, he meets Sharmila (Nayanthara) the boy’s mother with the help of Shalini so that he could get rid of the feeling that something is wrong. Even though she doesn’t agree in the beginning, she lets them into their home fearing the police getting into the act. Nitin seems to be a happy little boy who lives with his mother in a luxurious flat in the middle of the city, and his only contact is Megha (Aadya Prasad), a college student who comes regularly to teach him, and is his only real friend. Nitin gets close to John easily, especially due to his mask which reminded him about Batman and Robin. Soon, things take a turn, as they understand that the murder which the boy had talked about, is something which had really happened. The body which was supposed to be hidden in the area which he mentioned actually existed, as they fnd a skeleton which was about thirty years old. Now, the boy has another story, and things begin to get serious with police involved.

The defence of Nizhal :: There is a certain amount of quality that we can witness as far as b is considered as a mystery thriller – this is the style which some of the Prithviraj movies had possessed, those belonging to the same genre. The technical department is quite strong here, and we see some fine visuals and the background score as well as the other sound effects are of top quality. The mystery is well maintained throughout the film, and there is the suspense which is not revealed that easily. The movie, as a thing of mystery has that Hollywood touch in different areas. It never lets the slowing down of the tale to hurt it, because there is the artistic quality which makes everything feel relevant and running. The first half is surely better than the second, and the interval punch is of top quality, as it is where you get your expectations to the highest point. From there, the movie travels through the safer zone in comparison.

The claws of flaw :: The climax could have surely been better, instead of seemingly taking everything towards what seemed to be a rather convenient ending – not really appropriate for a movie which had taken itself out of the comfort zone in the early stages making one feel that this was going to be something divergent beyond expectations. There are also those situations which could have been more twisted than what is seen on the screen, and moments when it could have taken a big leap. We could have also seen better reasons for what has happened on the screen, but that is also not here to be taken. The comic relief, even though is pretty good, disappears too soon, and the seriousness is not transformed into that next level as it was needed, when we see the final moments of the film. One can’t really blame that as the biggest mystery and fear has been about the Corona virus for some time now. The movie also needed better advertising because there are still people who don’t know about this one.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchako Boban has been winning with his thriller movies, from Anjaam Pathiraa to Nayattu, the first one being an investigation thriller and the second one being a survival thriller against all odds. With all these movies, it is clear that he is getting rid of that romantic hero image once again, as this works really well for him. I would expect to find many more of similar movies with him in the lead, as we see how well this has suited him. After Love Action Drama, Nayanthara makes another return to Malayalam cinema, and this time it is into another genre, even though this time, we don’t have the whole thing centered around her – there is no real romantic side to this tale, and it is indeed a positive thing in a mystery thriller based on murders. Her character is also limited in comparison, and maybe it could have had more dimensions rather than being important as the mother of child causing trouble.

Further performers of the soul :: Izin Hash who plays the kid does the usual job quite well too. Saiju Kurup does things well in a role which suits him. Lal makes an appearance in the end, and it is the kind of role, though significant, stays on for the last fifteen minutes or so. Maybe, he could have had something to do earlier in the film too, and that would have made the whole thing better. Rony David who is best remembered for Aanandam, plays a significant role here too, and Divya Prabha who were among the nurse characters in Take Off has a nice role here, as a child psychologist, which she does to perfection – another case of finding the right support cast. We also see Marimayam‘s Vinod Kovoor and Star Magic‘s Kollam Sudhi in smaller roles, and we can hope for more of them later too. Among others, Aadhya Prasad seemed to be a notable newcomer, and we can find out that the lesser roles are given to those who are suitable for the job.

How it finishes :: Nizhal is the latest in the list of those Malayalam movies which were forced out of the theatres due to the COVID-19 complete lock-down being brought on the state. It is a fine choice, as nothing reaches viewers like Amazon Prime. After Drishyam 2 became a huge success and Joji received some high level critical opinion, it was already too late for a movie like this to have its release in the OTT platform. So, finally it arrived, and one can be sure not to be disappointed with this mystery thriller, as it is more than the usual mysteries which you see everywhere. It was also nice to see parts of UC College, Aluva being included in parts of the movie – the college had its biggest appearance in Premam, but here also, we are happy to see that grand educational institution which only recently completed one hundred years since its beginning. Nizhal, as a mystery thriller wins its battle, and lets hope that we win ours against COVID-19 too. Stay safe, everyone.

Release date: 9th April 2021 (Theatre), 11th May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Appu N Bhattathiri
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Nayanthara, Lal, Rony David, Saiju Kurup, Izin Hash, Divya Prabha, Vinod Kovoor, Aneesh Gopal, Siyad Yadu, Sadiq, Aadhya Prasad, Rajesh Hebbar, Kollam Sudhi, Sreelatha Namboothiri

<— If looking for horror genre in Amazon Prime, read this review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nayattu

What is the movie about? :: Praveen Michael (Kunchacko Boban) is seen as rejoining the police force after taking a small break from service for a tug of war competition. Even though he made a fake medical claim, he is reinstated into the force as the police department is preparing for bye-elections. He meets his superior officer Maniyan (Joju George) and Sunitha (Nimisha Sajayan) works at the same police station. One day, they have a fight with a local goon, a relative of Sunitha in the police station who has been harassing her, and the situation goes out of hand with Praveen and Maniyan fighting the goons. The issue is finally settled, and no case is charged against the person for assualting the police because of his political influence as part of a Dalit party. Later, their jeep meets an accident, and a person is almost killed. The driver who is a relative of Maniyan runs away, and the person who met the accident happens to be a friend of the person with whom they had a fight.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: They take the person to the nearby hospital, but he is soon, pronounced dead. At the same time, the goons reach the hospital, and the three cops run away towards the police station, almost getting attacked on the way. They get to the station, and tells them the details, but it turns out that the news in channels haven’t come in such a way that it would be helpful to them. It turns out that the police was planning to arrest them, and as they understands the same, makes their move. They leave the police station, and decides to run away, even though there is no clear destination awaiting them. The Chief Minister calls for immediate arrest of the police officers because he needs the support of the Dalit group. At the same time, even though left with minimum help, they manage to go for the highlands. But a group of elite police officers are searching for them, and time is surely running out.

The defence of Nayattu :: Nayattu shows the strength of a certain survival mode at all times. Malayalam movies have had their own dose of survival films, but none of them have come close to being this effective. There is also the case of a corrupt system which is hell bent on punishing the innocents if that means political advantage, and power always shifting to politics and their goons, even if one has law and order in hands. The movie deals with the realistic side of a survival thriller, and it doesn’t pretend in doing the same. There were many paths which Nayattu could have taken, but here it takes the one with the least pretensions, and that can be seen in the final moments of the film too, as there is nothing like an uplifting moment in this movie. The ending is open-ended, and it is up for the viewers to decide how this ends, even though the options seem pretty much straight forward. With some good visuals to add to it in the later stages, the movie reaches there.

Positives and negatives :: Nayattu is a reflection of that world in which putting up a fine show in front of the camera is more important than truth, and it is a mirror that should be held against a good number of cases which the media had taken up in the last few years – truth had often taken the backseat favouring the sensational in almost every case there. It is that world were facts are not important, as the objective viewpoint becomes weaker in comparison to the emotional side. It is like a fixed match of IPL, and people just wish to enjoy the show, and different castes wishes to play their cards, sometimes in an extremely violent manner and at other times that of victim – this situation is reflected rather clearly around here. Still, the ending could have been made crisper, and better meaning could have been given to these happening instead of making all these acts resulting in nothing, a case of absurd. Even when going the realistic path, there are always more things to be done, and something else to be added.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchako Boban plays the main character here, even though the balance does lie among the three police officers. He plays the rookie police officer in a very much believable manner, as this realistic depiction makes another version of dealing with crime unlike what we had seen earlier in Anjaam Pathira. It is indeed nice to see him being part of such serious movies again and again. Joju George’s character here reminds us of his work in Joseph and Action Hero Biju, and he does a very believable job in this film too. He has some of the best dialogues in the movie too. Nimisha Sajayan is realistically good as usual, and we have seen her choosing the realistic path on so many occasions and succeeding in the same. She was on one side of crime before, as we have seen in Oru Kuprasidha Payyan when she played a lawyer.

Further performers of the soul :: Jaffer Idukki was seen playing the Transport Minister in Yuvam, and here he plays the Chief Minister – the role of the politician, especially that of a minister seems to suit him really well again and again. His character here reflects the typical politician who wants to retain power at any cost, and will plan successfully to win elections. Yama Gilgamesh who plays the police officer in charge of the operation has everyone’s attention too. This is also one of the last films of Anil Nedumangad, the actor who have done some memorable supporting roles in the last few years, and had died by drowning at the reservoir of Malankara Dam during break in between shooting. He plays the officer who supports the investigation, and this is once again very much a notable role. The rest of the supporting cast feel very much realistic.

How it finishes :: Nayattu is the one realistic survival thriller which reflects the corrupt system so well, that we feel the strength of that depiction in more than one way. There are castes and communities which try to get their due, and for governments, these divisions matter – now the question remain about the position of justice, and that is left to the crowd and media, The film is a fine reflection of this situation, and as it has reached Netflix, I am sure that more people will be interested in watching the flick. Unlike the forgettable Irul which had released in Netflix, this one has a lot more to offer, even more than what the Amazon Prime releases Drishyam 2 and Joji had to offer. It is time that the films which were taken out of theatres due to lock-down come to some OTT platform or maybe have an early television premiere, because it is the worst stage of COVID-19, and we do not know what the future holds for anyone in India right now.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (Theatre), 9th May 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Martin Prakkat
Starring: Kunchako Boban, Joju George, Nimisha Sajayan, Anil Nedumangad, Jaffer Idukki, Samson Matthew Valiyaparambil, Ajit Koshy, Manohari Joy, Yama Gilgamesh, Jineesh Chandran, Hakkim Shajahan, Vinod Sagar, Dineesh P, Jithu Asharef, Kiran Peethambaran, Sminu Sijo, Arafath

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Without Remorse

 

What is the movie about? :: A group of US Navy SEALs are led by Senior Chief John Kelly (Michael B Jordan) through Aleppo in Syria, while the Syrian Civil War is at its peak, and ISIS has a considerable presence in the country. In between all the destruction that they see around them, their mission is to rescue a CIA agent who was earlier taken hostage by ISIS members. But they are shocked and surprised as they come across what seems to a Russian arms depot and not an ISIS safehouse, and the people they were fighting seemed like experts. It turns out that Deputy Director Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) knew that the mission involved fighting the Russian military, and the team, without knowing what they were facing, only manages to survive and escape with the hostage before an airstrike is called on the location. But only three months later, the military officers who were involved in the operation are murdered one after the other, while John spends his time at home with his pregnant wife Pamela M Kelly (Lauren London) after retiring from the force.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It turns out that John’s home is also attacked at night, and even though he is able to kill one of the attackers, his wife and the unborn baby are killed, while he ends up in critical condition at the hospital. It turns out that it was a group of Russian FSB operatives who attacked them, and it turns out that it is a retaliation for what happened in Syria. But, Robert is not interested in going through the investigation, as even though it is a foreign attack on the US soil, CIA considers the scores settled, with no need to escalate it as an international problem between two nations and their allies around the world. There is also nothing to link the FSB members to the Russian government either. Lt Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) helps John with the needed information, and he takes matter into his hands, as he tracks down the Russian diplomat who issued the passports to the FSB operatives He forces him at gunpoint to provide the name of the surviving assassin, before killing him.

And what else is to happen here? :: John does get the escaped name as Victor Rykov (Brett Gelman), but is sent to prison for what he had done. He also has a fight in the prison, but gets himself in control as he is given an audience with CIA and the rest of the US Department of Defence. United States Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce) decides that he would send John with the other operatives to find Victor, as his anger, determination and need for vengeance can be used effectively even though nobody else is certain about it. But even though they travel to Russia in a cargo plane undercover, they are discovered by a Russian fighter plane which shoots them down. This leads to the relation between the United States and Russia reaching a new low after Cold War. They just manage to escape as the flight lands in the sea, and John’s doubts about Robert gets to a new high as he hadn’t taken the same flight with them. Even though he repeats that he knows nothing, there is the feeling that there is something clearly wrong about this particular mission.

The defence of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse :: We always love to have a movie with a high revenge element turn into something with an international conspiracy. There is enough suspense being built here, and we have some twists to add to it, as many things here are not exactly as what they seem. The action is good, and it is mostly focused on shooting, with the support of some explosions, and the feeling of war is always there, even when it is not really on the screen. The sequences are nicely done, not just with the fights, but also with the settings, reminding one of those nice first person and third person games which we have played in the past – after all, the gamers of early 2000s will surely remember games like Rainbow Six and what followed, including Rogue Spear, Take Down, Raven Shield and others which are also based on the works of Tom Clancy, and took the shooters to another level during the time of release. The movie version is quick and keeps up the pace throughout its run-time here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t add that much new as one would have expected. It could have managed to get rid of some of its predictability here, and there doesn’t seem to be an attempt to add more to the plot, as a deviation from the book has happened as the makers have tried to change the setting to contemporary times. The hero is also a little bit too strong for this kind of a movie, even though he is still not seen as a superhuman as some of our good old blind fans would have liked – they still have Bollywood to have such dumb movies of non-acting megastars. Some of the twists that await us can be sensed, and we have a number of moments when things could have gotten much better. Also, if you are looking for the usual kind of full of action or full movie, that is not going to happen – it is a trend among the viewers from this part of the world. This is certainly the movie which we would have wanted to see as a better one.

The performers of the soul :: Michael B Jordan with his strong performance leads the way here, even when the character does make us feel that there was much more deserved rather than following the safe path. The action as well as emotional side seems to work well for him here, and gets some fine battle scenes to work in his favour. You are often reminded of Will Smith in Gemini Man too. It is said that Keanu Reeves was also offered the main role here, and that would have been nice too, considering what he has been doing in the John Wick series as the hitman without limits. Beyond the protagonist, the one person who makes a big impact is Jamie Bell, who is the kind of person that suits this kind of films, and if a sequel is being made, he deserves to be there. Lauren London doesn’t have much to do in here, and the only female character who gets any importance is Jodie Turner-Smith who plays Commander Karen Greer, and it is played well. Guy Pearce does his job in a neat manner too.

How it finishes :: Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse gets its release in Amazon Prime, and this is indeed the right time to be on OTT at least in India, as this is the season of COVID-19 again, and not many Indian films are releasing on any of these platforms anymore. With the novel on which it is based, written in 1993, and set during the Vietnam War, this one takes a move forward in the timeline, placing itself in the contemporary times as it serves as the origin story of John Clark, a character that is repeated in the other works of the series. There seems to be quite a good number of differences which are to be noted. The fans of the book might or might not like them, but as far as most of us around here are concerned, we haven’t read the work. I would consider this one to be an interesting movie with focus on origins. The opportunity for the sequel can also be seen here, and we can wait to see how another film can build on this.

Release date: 30th April 2021
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Stefano Sollima
Starring: Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Luke Mitchell, Jack Kesy, Brett Gelman, Colman Domingo, Guy Pearce, Lauren London, Todd Lasance, Cam Gigandet, Jacob Scipio

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to to go to the previous Hollywood review.

<— Click here to go to the previous big Amazon prime release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.