Antakshari

Vampire Owl: This reminds us of the great game that we had in the castle.

Vampire Bat: The human game was indeed interesting.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans play more of the evil games.

Vampire Bat: It is just a part of their evil nature.

Vampire Owl: Evil is part of their nature more than ever these days.

Vampire Bat: Can you guess how many evil humans are in this movie?

Vampire Owl: I am guessing that at least ninety five percent of them will be evil.

Vampire Bat: It is not really a big percentage for any group of humans.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has determined it be as high as ninety nine most of the time.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this has anything to do with Mr Frankenstein and his fake experiments of no meaning.

[Gets a chicken samosa and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector Das (Saiju Kurup) is the officer in charge of a police station in the remote area of a hilly terrain, where Srinivas (Sudhi Koppa) joins as a probationary officer while hoping to solve a big case as soon as possible. Das gets into a fight with Vasudevan (Vijay Babu), who is a local leader of a prominent party, and also has multiple business interests. On the very next day, Das’ daughter is almost strangled to death by a man wearing a paper mask, saved only because of his wife Chitra (Priyanka Nair) noticing it at the right time. Despite threatening Das and his family before, Vasudevan denies any kind of involvement in the act, affirming that his problems are solved face to face, and there will be no hiding. Das has the habit of playing antakshari where each person sings a song, and the next person begins with the letter on which the previous person’s song ended. On the day on which his daughter was attacked, he had also received a call from an unknown number asking him to sing a song, or his daughter will be singing instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Their senior officer Jayachandran (Binu Pappu) and the local head constable Hariharan (Kottayam Ramesh) are not really fond of Das, as they are on the side of Vasudevan, and do not want him to solve too mysterious a case. He also comes against a strange, mute girl named Nayana (Ishita Singh) who has come to her grandparents’ home from Delhi. There is something about her, as she also seems to be hiding some secrets which nobody would want to know. Das and Srinivas slowly, but effectively connects the dots and finds out that similar murders have happened before, but police had closed the cases. Some of those murders were also considered to be accidents, and the deaths of the fathers after the murders of their children were considered to be accidents or suicides as a result of alcoholism and depression. The two officers end up finding a chain of events which lead a long way back, but will they be able to find the person behind it in time or is there another murder on the path?

The defence of Antakshari :: The movie has a police officer who is rather ordinary, and it has his struggles in finding the psychotic murderer, who is really that crazy as in Forensic, and very unlike the non-psychotic revenge seeker in Anjaam Pathira. The cop doesn’t have that much of a flaw as the protagonist of Memories, but is very much relatable with a usual kind of family and personal problems. The movie is shot nicely, and with some fine performances, leaves scope for a possible sequel – despite the low chances, we hope that such an attempt is made; there are also other similar trials of investigation which can be combined with this one to create a shared universe. Such a sequel can also talk about those elements of this movie which seems lost, and maybe, it can be a serial killer universe instead of a cop universe. This is the kind of movie which Bollywood would use to make a super-cop, but thankfully, we don’t leave it in their hands. The movie doesn’t take the predictable path either, as there seems to be the possibility of fun discovered in taking the road less taken, on the lines of Robert Frost.

The claws of flaw :: Antakshari is quite slow in its progression, and there are characters who don’t really play much of a role in moving the tale forward. A few things also go without explanations. The whole saga of one family with an abusive father, frustrated mother, music-playing son and cat-loving daughter facing a mysterious girl don’t fit in here at all – neither do the broken guitar and dead cat. This is that kind of a family which could have been there for namesake, but so much of time is wasted on them. If a red herring was intended, that should have been a part of the storyline – there was another villain out there who could have served the same. The young engineering student who is in love with a mysterious mute girl makes no sense, even if the vampires were to turn cent percent vegetarian. Without these moments, the movie could have been shorter, and the pacing could have surely been better. This one lets the lost moments go lost rather than get it back and link them. There were so many paths that this film could have taken, that is for sure.

The performers of the soul :: Saiju Kurup shines really well as the police inspector who has this investigation on a personal level rather than anything else, like Joju George of Joseph. He has been one actor who didn’t get enough opportunities to lead, but this is one chance which he holds on to. He is someone who suits this kind of a police officer really well. Sudhi Koppa plays the role of the supporting officer well, and it is also not a role he is stranger to. He is another performer whom we need to see very often, as there seems to be a lot of requirements for quality actors rather than entertainers. Binu Pappu doesn’t have that good and understanding police officer role here, but does this shade with ease. Priyanka Nair who did have some fine roles years ago has another one to remember here. Among all the roles being performed here, Ishita Singh’s role remains the one which doesn’t seem to give us any idea of its purpose of existence – feels like an absurd side around here, even though she suits the character. The rest of the characters mostly just have to play along here, but more notable are the woman and child from the flashback. Vijay Babu has a small role.

How it finishes :: Like Salute, Antakshari is another movie which doesn’t depend on the foolish mass masala to go through investigations by police officers. It is very good and effective because it doesn’t cater to those brainless fans who visit the theatres and get a movie crores of business while losing all their money to petrol, parking fees, highly expensive food and others. This movie is for the others, who look out for the new releases on OTT platforms, as the Corona virus pandemic has shown us that it is indeed the right thing to do. Well, you have the choice not to go to the theatre and watch those foolish dance and music to which insanity is unleashed in between a story – I would call for the lack of the same every time. The mass masala genre itself is a fake thing created for the superstars and their children to call their fans to the theatres and by creating the fake vibes, they make the rest of the audience feel that the movie is fantastic – lets see how long these star kids who fly around beating people and doing dumb romance will go. After that, you can come back to good movies like this one.

Release date: 22nd April 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vipin Das
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Priyanka Nair, Sudhi Koppa, Vijay Babu, Binu Pappu, Thomas Kunnampuzha, Shabareesh Varma, Sruthy Suresh, Kottayam Ramesh, Boban Samuel, Sandeep Pradeep, Ishita Singh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Snake Eyes

Vampire Owl: I remember a time when all vampires played with GI Joe toys.

Vampire Bat: Well, that was a very short period of time.

Vampire Owl: Yet, those were some wonderful days.

Vampire Bat: If I remember correctly, those were nights. When we were awake.

Vampire Owl: Both days and nights belonged to games.

Vampire Bat: You mean to include computer games too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, that would make this a very long list.

Vampire Bat: I would start with Age of Empires and Age of Wonders for that.

Vampire Owl: Yet, there was no game like Unreal Tournament 99.

Vampire Bat: Only to be permanently addicted to Mass Effect later.

[Gets a milk peda and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy witnesses his father being murdered by a group of armed people, after their leader determines his fate by rolling a dice. Many years later, he has grown up to a skilled martial arts fighter Snake Eyes (Henry Golding). As he keeps winning all the fights and changing cities, a rich Yakuza boss named Kenta Takamura (Takehiro Hira) disovers him in a fighting arena in Los Angeles. Even though he doesn’t like the offer in the beginning, the idea of being able to find the people who killed his father makes him interested. But when he is asked to murder Tommy (Andrew Koji), who despite being Kenta’s cousin, had broken trust, he refuses, and even helps him to escape. Both Tommy and Kenta were next line to become leader of their clan, and the latter tried to have the former killed. Kenta’s plan was discovered before it could materialize, and Tommy had him banished. As Snake Eyes cannot go back to Los Angeles as he would be hunted by the Yakuza, he is taken to Tokyo instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Tommy who feels that he owes a blood debt to Snake Eyes, takes him to his ninja world. Sen (Eri Ishida), Tommy’s grandmother who leads the ninja clan agrees to let him join the group under some conditions, even though the head of secutiy, Akiko (Haruka Abe) is not fond of anyone from outside joining them, as it would be an unusual practice. He is supposed to go through three challenges, first two challenges to cleanse him of ego, anger and fear, and get him ready for the third one. Tommy also lets him know that failure means death. He will only has a few days to train for the same. With no recorded history about him and being known only by a strange alias, Akiko continues to doubt him. But she is still confident that Snake Eyes will fail the first test itself, as at least eighty percent of them fail every time. Tommy feels confident that Snake Eyes will be among the passing twenty percent, but there is certainly more than one twist to it.

The defence of Snake Eyes :: There is a lot of fighting going on in this tale inspired from a toy line, and the reboot has started off pretty well with hope for something big to be seen in a sequel with so many characters to come. Four of the most interesting characters, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Baroness have been introduced, and we can keep hoping for more. The sword fights show a certain amount of quality here, and it is not all that we see here, as we have something more in an year which provided us with Mortal Kombat. The final battle is a big one, and it has everyone going after one another. The location of the ninjas is nicely chosen too. Well, one always feel happy about watching Japan on the screen – Tokyo is nothing less than a dream city. When you look at origin stories, starting with the tale of the two ninjas seem to be the right choice, especially as the earlier movies didn’t focus enough on the two. From this beginning, the movie seems to assert that it won’t go the Transformers way, bringing more confusion as the film franchise progresses.

The claws of flaw :: Even with its twists, there is a certain amount of predictability associated with it. The hero here is the one whom we wish to have on the side of the Cobra though, as Storm Shadow is hundred percent a better person of quality than Snake Eyes by any means – it is how things are shown here. We would have wished for Snake Eyes to stay in the Cobra even as the toy storyline states otherwise. Well, just one person is responsible for all these, and he seems to be the good guy in the end. A better introduction for the characters of GI Joe and Cobra would have been better – just having Scarlett and Baroness is not good enough, and the two ninja brothers have only started. Cobra could have actually had a better job to do here too. The idea of vengeance could have been portrayed better, and instead this one seems to go here and there, not sticking to a particular plan, just like the main character himself who seems to be the most clueless one. Maybe, he intends to set things right with a sequel if there is one.

The performers of the soul :: The two leading actors, Henry Golding and Andred Koji seems to be perfectly suited for the roles, and they seem to go on with the action sequences with relative ease, especially the latter who seems to blend in from the beginning itself. Rachel Nichols who played Scarlett has been replaced by Samara Weaving, and it does seem to be a nice change – there is still only a little to be done for her here, even though she gets some of the action. Sienna Miller has been replaced by Ursula Corbero, and let us hope that this time the story won’t have the dumn romance angle, and what was ridiculous about the character played by Sienna won’t be repeated here – Ursula does make a fine entry here, and there is some nice action for her too. Haruka Abe nicely blends into her role of the security in charge of the ninjas, while Takehiro Hira has his interesting moments as the antagonist. The two masters played by Iko Uwais and Peter Mensah remains interesting too. Along with the same, Eri Ishida as the grandmother comes as a surprise package in the action scenes too.

How it finishes :: It seems that this movie will serve as a new beginning, with the origins stories coming one’s way. The earlier movies of GI Joe were entertaining for sure, but it never really used the strengths to the best advantage, and there was even some strange romantic sides to them. This movie could serve as a better beginning for a franchise reminding us of all the toys that we had during our childhood – I still have them in the showcase of the house. Well, there are not many movies which can bring such a nostalgia from figures – actually, there is no other which I can remember. In that case, this film would serve nicely to bring more into the series. Let us hope that this new coming won’t be confused as the earlier journey with the toys. But as this is based on toys, we can only hope for the best, not for it to haunt us. Until then, let us be prepared by watching this movie on Amazon Prime Video in advance. You always have space for movies like these, at least as the big entertainers full of action and style.

Release date: 22nd July 2021
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Ursula Corbero, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Iko Uwais

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Out of Death

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this is about us. We are the undead.

Vampire Bat: This is not really about coming out of death as undead.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see any other way for anybody to come out of death.

Vampire Bat: Your favourite doctor might have some plans about that.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is not a doctor, but a scientist.

Vampire Bat: Mr Frankenstein is a duplicate scientist, and a half-doctor.

Vampire Owl: Well, he has created undead out of nothing.

Vampire Bat: They were pretty much undead already.

Vampire Owl: There has been a difference in the two states.

Vampire Bat: An undead being killed and revived won’t make much of sense.

[Gets a paneer masala dosa and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Shannon Mathers (Jaime King), a journalist who is trying to scatter her father’s ashes on the top of a mountain witnesses Billie Jean (Lala Kent) going through a drug deal with a gangster. It doesn’t go right, as the latter is shot by the former after he is found recording their deal on the phone. After the murder, she gets rid of the body too. Shannon also has photos of the incident on her camera. At the same time, Retired cop Jack Harris (Bruce Willis) seems to be having some relaxed moments with his niece Pam Harris (Kelly Greyson). Soon enough, Billie realizes that there is someone else in the area where the murder was committed, and Shannon barely manages to run away. She calls the other corrupt police officers, Hank Rivers (Michael Sirow) and Tommy Rivers (Tyler Olson), who decide to lock all the exits from the area that leads outside, along with getting rid of the body in time. Soon, it seems that there are too many of corrupt officers out there, and they are all after Shannon.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Shannon had also came there to prove her father wrong, that she could hike through this place unlike what her father had thought. Now, this is not what she had actually thought she would be facing. Jack also feels that it is not what he should be doing, as he comes across Billie trying to shoot Shannon, and rescues her. As they keep running, Shannon ends up stabbing Billie. As Tommy and Hank find no hope for Billie to survive as she bleeds out, they put her out of her misery, and hopes that they can pin that on Shannon, as there is the knife with her fingerprints. As she also manages to shoot Tommy, the only way out of her now seems to be with the evidence that she had captured with her camera, as she has almost become labelled as a junkie who has killed two police officers. Now, Hank won’t step back on vengeance as Tommy was also his brother. Now, it seems that the only way out for him is through Pam. But how will that work out for him now?

The defence of Out of Death :: The movie serves as a survivor thriller which is better than the other one movie with survival of a witness in the woods, Those Who Wish Me Dead which had Angeline Jolie saving the target – that one also released in the same year, and had one veteran performer trying to get into action. With Jaime King around, things only get better. There are some nice visuals of the woods, and we have some nicely planned dialogues in here too. The movie can boast about that strong female protagonist as much as the carefully picturized antagonist who seems to be the only man around there with a perfect plan which seems to work. The lesser known cast also deliver so well, and unlike what one feels in the beginning, Lala Kent is a fine surprise. The movie can also be considered as one of the least violent movies with a theme like this, as there is no more than three people who dies around here, even with so many possibilities of danger being present here – things go further away from death like the title suggests.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing special that gets added here, and even with Bruce Willis all prepared to go big action, you don’t really get that here either. Most of the events of the movie are also predictable, and that feeling goes on with the ending too. A few twists being added here and there could have helped the film’s purpose better. The police officers being smarter and tougher would have done the trick better – the lady police officer is left to mess up thing more and more as the story progresses. The gunshots effects are badly used, and the change for some big action with guns and hands are not used. The possibility of adding some terrifying sequences is also not taken – after all this is more or less like the forest area in countryside with a vast amount of woods. The drama in the movie moves on the usual lines too, and the main characters struggles could have also been shown in a better way. After all, she is someone who could contribute more at all times. The nature does look beautiful enough, but could have added more here.

The performers of the soul :: With Bruce Willis around, this could feel like a Die Hard in the woods, even though he is not of that much of a strength here. There is also not much of a strength for fighting for him as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Escape Plan, The Expendables or the latter as The Terminator in Genisys and Dark Fate. He seems much more tired in comparison, and he also leaves to the fighting to Jaime King, as he is left with holding the gun and pointing it at people, along with some nice dialogues added to it. This is more or less the shadow of the action king whom we have seen in the past. Jaime King is left to do all the action instead, and we know her from enough action and horror movies, as she is very much capable here, outdoing herself in the second half of the movie. Lala Kent plays the next most notable character here, and the film could have actually done more with here, instead of getting rid of the character too early. Tyler Olson is fine, while Tyler Olson who is a fine antagonist could have been used better with action scenes added to her rather than limiting him to talks.

How it finishes :: As one of the most non-violent movies belonging to the survival and crime thriller genre, this one makes fine use of the available resources in a seemingly low budget setting. It never tries too hard at anything, but manages to be interesting with what it has in hand. You are not supposed to expect a full action movie, as there is the main character trying to escape from trouble all the time, and having police officers on the hunt. Even though Bruce Willis remains mostly non-violent, you have to love how Jamie King steps into this one. Having a movie without Bruce Willis beating up, shooting or injuring anyone even when there were so many chances – feels strange, but it is indeed true. Well, change is inevitable, even though we expect the same thing from a superstar all the time, no matter how old he is – well, the curse of the Indian movies, isn’t it? But this one has the superstar of the past going through the more believable path.

Release date: 16th July 2021
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Mike Burns
Starring: Jaime King, Bruce Willis, Lala Kent, Kelly Greyson, Mike Burns, Michael Sirow, Tyler Olson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Army of the Dead

Vampire Owl: We are the Army of the Dead. This movie should be about us.

Vampire Bat: We are not the Army of the Dead. We are the Army of the Undead.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they are different from each other.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is also an Army of Darkness, you know.

Vampire Owl: Okay, still it is the dead that becomes the undead.

Vampire Bat: Well, death is a beginning, and for the undead, it has already begun.

Vampire Owl: I think that you are pointing to the zombies as the dead.

Vampire Bat: Yes, without full brain acitivity, they are to considered dead rather than undead, as we look closer at them.

Vampire Owl: Well, not all of the dead are undead, we can be sure about that.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one has some fine zombies though.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A convoy coming from Area 51, the highly classified United States Air Force facility located within the Nevada Test and Training Range collides with the car of a newly married couple on a highway near Las Vegas. The high level of secrecy surrounding the base had already brought enough conspiracy theories to the scene including UFOs and aliens which are regular part of such talks. This time, the package which was part of the convoy is revealed to be a zombie, a very strong muscular creature which escapes, and during the process kills all the soldiers, among which some of them are infected and transformed into similar creatures, seeking to attack more humans. The zombies do head to the city, and infect most of its population. The United States military faces suffer heavy casualities, and is forced to retreat while facing the ever increasing hordes of zombies which are not that easy to kill as they only get stronger. The government decides to do what they considers to be the last resort, to deploy a tactical nuclear strike on the city to end the zombie threat forever, even though there are protests against the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Later, the very rich and influencial Japanese casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his associate Martin (Garret Dillahunt) asks a former resident of Las Vegas and earlier mercenary, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) who is currently working at a burger joint to take over a job to recover two hundred million dollars from his casino vault in the quarantined Las Vegas. The time is running out, with the nuclear strike coming up. Ward agrees and recruits his former teammates Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) and Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) as the maim mercenaries, along with a helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), a safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer), and a sharpshooter Mikey Guzman (Raul Castillo), who also brings his associate Chambers (Samantha Win). Martin also joins them to make sure that there is access. They have a thirty two hour window to do what they have done the best in history, and even though they cannot fly in due to flight restrictions, they can fly out in one of the rescue helicopter located at the top of the casino.

And what is with the humans and the zombies which we have around here? :: As they are not able to find a way inside, Scott searches and finds his daughter Kate Ward (Ella Purnell), and offers her his share of the millions, asking her to help him get into the city. Kate directs them to Lilly (Nora Arnezeder) or coyote, a smuggler who knows the city. Burt Cummings (Theo Rossi), an abusive security guard who knows exactly what happens inside with the zombies. When Kate understands that Geeta (Huma Qureshi) also went into Las Vegas with two others, she feels that she should also be inside. Being the badly raised dumb kid that she happens to be, she stops at nothing to get what she wants, and the returned father figure can only agree. When inside, the common zombies are not the only ones that they have to face, for there are zombie animals too, including a zombie tiger. There are also a different kind of zombies, which are not the usual mindless ones. They are smarter, faster and better organized, with a mark on their territories. It won’t be that easy to dupe these zombies. Can they get what they want and make it out?

The defence of Army of the Dead :: It is clear that we haven’t had a full fun zombie movie like this one for a long time, and there is a lot of entertainment with the action, thrills and even a certain amount of horror that has been going on with the undead creatures. It also has some humour in between, and a fine detail of the post-apocalyptic world as well as the zombie attacks with descriptions to support them. Among the performers, Dave Bautista and Ana de la Reguera are at the top, with Nora Arnezeder and Matthias Schweighofer following closely. The man who is known as Batista in WWE is another one of those ring performers who has done so well in cinema, after Dwayne Johnson’s classic performance, and also John Cena up-to an extent. Ana de la Reguera and Nora Arnezeder are perfect lady soldiers who know exactly what they are doing. The movie, with its ending, also leaves something for a possible film in the future. Even though it is pretty much a long movie, you don’t really feel the length, as there is so much of action going on at all times, and we are indeed taken to this world of post-apocalyptic chaos.

Positives and negatives :: There are moments which this movie could have avoided to cut down the length, and it also kills one of its interesting characters too early – Samantha Win played quite a strong soldier who is lost before the big battles begin. Ella Purnell, even if meant to be irritating, plays the character that causes the death of most of the character – one of the most foolish characters ever in an action movie, for only horror films have dumber characters suiting them. Huma Qureshi is also here, but she is also wasted in a character which provides nothing good to the movie – without her, the film could have been shorter as there was no need to spare some time for the unnecessary. At least half of the characters are not made to be memorable either. This is also a movie about which not many people knows, and that is a disappointment – it could have had some advertisements in this part of the world, as it is something which will appeal to our audience too. Zombies will catch our attention as much as any undead creature rising from the dead.

How it finishes :: With the title, one wouldn’t really know if this is about vampires, zombies or ghosts, but the zombie idea also does work that effectively as any other monster, proven already in Warm Bodies, World War Z and so many Resident Evil films which kept coming back again, one after the other. This one makes a fine progress with the story, even with some predictability in store, and as it does have a lot of action to go with it. The movie is indeed an all-rounder, and you can feel that quite early itself. Even though the corona virus pandemic didn’t create the zombie apocalypse as a gamer or zombie-movie lover would have anticipated, it is only safe to say that there is always hope for something like it in the future. When that zombie pandemic happens, we will have watched some quality undead hunting movies like this one, and we will be ready. After all, Zombieland already has us partially prepared for the big event. For the rest of the procedure, the next sequel of this particular movie will keep us prepared.

Release date: 14th May 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Dave Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Ella Purnell, Nora Arnezeder, Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighofer, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raul Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Night Drive

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when the vampire team was on a night drive?

Vampire Bat: We only have night drives around here. We don’t go for morning drives.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the night drives have been rare too.

Vampire Bat: That is because we don’t drive, but fly.

Vampire Owl: Not all vampires can fly, or even glide.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we bats and owls do.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can go for a drive in the vampire-mobile.

Vampire Bat: It is a bat-mobile, and it is my private property.

Vampire Owl: You don’t use it as you can fly.

Vampire Bat: It will not be used for night drives, and that is final.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Georgy Jacob (Roshan Mathew) works as an Uber driver and hopes to migrate to the Middle Easy for a better future. He is in love with Riya Roy (Anna Ben), a very popular news reporter, and they used to be childhood friends for a very long time. They do keep a certain amount of distance between them, as Riya’s father, Roy Mathew (Renju Panicker) who has retired from the military forces is not fond of Georgy. For Riya’s birthday which is also the Christmas evening, they decide to go on a night drive without her father knowing anything about it. At the same time, Rajan Kurup (Siddique) is caught in a gold smuggling scandal which was discovered by Riya and her channel, a case which has been transferred to NIA. He expects to be arrested by the squad on the very next day, and asks Chacko Cherian (Kalabhavan Shajohn) to find a way to get rid of the gold in his home before NIA comes for the raid. Rajan’s trusted aid Jaleel (Sudheer Karamana) assigns the minister’s personal assistant Balu (Kaliash) to get the gold to a safe house.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meanwhile, Riya who was driving the car gets into a fight with Circle Inspector Benny Moopen (Indrajith Sukumaran) who was doing routine vehicle checking. Benny lets them go so that he can avoid any of the people there spreading the news about him bothering a lady in the middle of the night, but is clearly angry about the incident. Riya who keeps arguing with Georgy over the earlier incident suddenly spots someone in front of their car, and the vehicle seems to have hit that person, who is revealed to be Balu with a bag full of gold. The two manages to take him to the hospital, which brings Francis (Prasanth Alexander) who owns the car they were driving and Ammini (Sreevidya Mullachery) handles that particular Uber fleet operations to the hospital too. The police officer in charge of the case is Benny, who is only happy to torment Riya and Georgy over the incident. He decides to keep them in the hospital, but the arrival of Chacko at the hospital with other motives complicates things.

The defence of Night Drive :: The movie seems to move forward naturally in the beginning stages, with likable characters and the incidents which can be related by different people from various stage of their lives. The beginning stages go on with the usual, and feels like the natural order of things. It does have some fine twists, and a few red herrings are also there to make sure that one doesn’t guess it the right way. The different characters in the movie are not really what they seem to be, as the visages tend to show differently on diferent occasions. There are moments which keep you at the edge of the seat, as these are characters whom you like. The cast has been chosen well here, as you feel that there would have been tendency to go for a few others, but here we have characters getting equal importance instead of the focus shifting to one person. The visuals of Cochin are really good around here. This is the kind of movie which should have released directly on OTT, as there is a certain possibility of this going popular among the audience outside Kerala if it was first released online.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie had built up so well, the final scenes are not that much up to the mark. There is the plan to bring some mass action in the end, but it doesn’t suit the overall mood of the film – a darker version of the final moments would have done better for this particular movie. Let the outdated superstars do the mass action for their brainless fans, and the new generation of actors should go for class and perfection. These are not the times of such fan nonsense in the theatres, as we have the post-corona virus OTT loving audience as a strong force, and this is the flick which will be watch more on such platforms rather than anywhere else. It had a certain realistic side to the proceedings until the makers decided to go full action in the last few minutes with a specific background story added to the main characters. The first few minutes could have been shortened too, as there seems to be an extension of the less important happenings then. The conclusion could have also been kept at a higher level.

The performers of the soul :: Roshan Mathew has been continuously working hard to come up with some memorable performances, last seen in the Amazon Prime Video release, Kuruthi, a thriller with many messages. Coming out of the first big role in Aanandam and the earlier smaller ones in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Puthiya Niyamam, he has evolved a lot to reach this higher level. His performance in this movie is realistic for most of the time, and something to be appreciated, until the mass moments come in the end. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen has already let Anna Ben set a bar which is difficult for her to overcome – even with a film like Sara’s having her as the life and soul. Indrajith Sukumaran is solid as the police officer who seems strict as well as menacing, and at the same time, likes to have a strong grip on his investigation. Siddique once again plays the corrupt politician with sinister motives well, and reminds one of Jagathy Sreekumar of Passenger. Kaliash once again has a good supporting role and so is Kalabhavan Shajohn, while it is nice to see Sreevidya Mullachery of Star Magic fame playing a memorable role here – she is indeed a lovely talent, and the fair reason for anyone to watch the popular show in Flowers television channel.

How it finishes :: Night Drive becomes a movie of interest without that much of a hype associated with it. It has some fine moments of interest, and successfully deviates from the tendency to go full nonsense like in that Shane Nigam – Shine Tom Chacko film of misery and shame, the pariah of a movie called Ishq. When two lovers are on a night drive, the situation can be tackled well to make a thriller of quality beyond the usual and the expected, as shown around here. This movie seemed to have Roshan instead of Shane, Indrajith instead of Shine and Anna instead of Ann, with the main characters going for a night ride as part of celebrating the lady love’s birthday, and in the process being stopped by the man claiming to be the police officer – seems so familiar for those who have watched that movie, but this one takes a completely different route, and also involves other characters in a journey of twists which are not about just two, three or four people. Night Drive is successful and delivers nicely when we take a fine look.

Release date: 11th March 2022 (Theatre); 10th April 2022 (Netflix/Manorama Max)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Anna Ben, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Sreevidya Mullachery, Kailash, Muthumani, Prasanth Alexander, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Naradan

Vampire Owl: I am glad to find this one finally coming to the OTT.

Vampire Bat: Yes, especially as it is on Amazon Prime Video.

Vampire Owl: With Minnal Murali on Netflix, Tovino has risen to be an even bigger star.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we don’t really need the local theatre stars anymore.

Vampire Owl: It has always been difficult to watch the superstar movies in theatre.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the corona virus changed that up to an extent.

Vampire Owl: There are too many things that the virus has changed.

Vampire Bat: Smarter movies getting better appreciation all around India through OTT should surely be one of them.

Vampire Owl: Let there be more skills displayed in films.

Vampire Bat: It is all about watching the right movie and avoiding the others. In the case of some movies, we know that they are to be avoided, whatever happens.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Fr Daniel Purambokkil (Jaffer Idukki) is an activist who provides sensational news for the media while trying to help the poor people in need. He is a regular part of the telvision channel talks. Chandraprakash (Tovino Thomas) is one of those new age journalist who wishes to do those kind of stories which increases the rating of his channel – he is always forced to take it to another level by the channel, News Malayalam, but decides to keep it going naturally as he has been doing for quite a long time. Pradeep John (Sharafudheen) is part of a less popular channel, Vartha 24 X 7, and manages to come up with sone interviews to improve its viewership all of a sudden. Shivadas Kurup (Joy Mathew), Chief Editor of News Malayalam is not happy about the viewers choosing another channel instead of them who have better infrastructure and has had a bigger audience throughout history. Vartha 24 X 7 seems to get debates based on maoists and related news which would bring more of the audience into interest.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Pradeep John joins News Malayalam, much to the dismay of Chandraprakash, who feels that he has been sidelined by a new person who gets the same position and salary, along with better options to excel in the media field. Babuji (Vijayaradhavan) who has different special interests in politics and business comes up with an idea to make the best use of this particular opportunity. With his business partners, he plans to start a news channel which can attract the best revenue options from advertisers. Chandraprakash who is now known as CP, begins the channel with a big news related to Thomman Varghese (Kunchan), the Minister of Finance. The minister accused of being part of a sex scandal, and is forced to resign. Despite the best attempts of News Malayalam, it soon losses the number one spot among news channels. Narada News goes through the paths less taken – it is basically without moral principles as the focus is only one being the number one; where does that lead CP and his team?

The defence of Naradan :: The journalism that goes too hungry for TRP gets a dose here, as that side has been explored without any second thoughts to go with it – with a better ending, things could have been more in the movie’s favour. When Swantham Lekhakan released in 2009, this was a lot more relevant, and when Run Baby Run came into the picture in 2012 and Love 24×7 released in 2015, it continued to stay relevant – despite the YouTube channels gaining a little too many viewers, this one manages to establish the TRP hunt well, thanks to the leading performance from Tovino Thomas. There are some interesting moments related to the field, and we are all taken to this particular world from the beginning itself. One can also find some relations to incidents which happened in real life, but with the corona virus pandemic after that Jio revolution, things seem to have changed even further. Still, one would agree to the fact that news is not to be made for emotions, but discovered for the truth that it happens to be. Maybe, the movie would have been more relevant, releasing a few years ago.

The claws of flaw :: The problem with Naradan is that despite keeping on showing the mirror to media as a whole, it doesn’t show the same with the Youtube channels which do the same – except for a very few channels of high quality, there has been the lack of truth in Youtube, a case which will affect the common man’s senses more than the usual television channels, as the Jio revolution has made sure that anyone can say anything in the name of video blogging or vlogging. Unlike the usual media, the control is so much less there. The ending of Naradan is also not that convincing – there is a certain lack of power around there too. There could have also been a better show of the fight between the channels. In movies like this one, emotional side is also important, but the same doesn’t get to rise in its level either. The movie could have been strong with its pillars, but it decides to just go on without setting the base, which is why it seems to come down with its score here and there – the strong foundation is surely missing around here, along with the overall quality being low.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas once again comes up with some excellence here, but his role should have been closer to what he had played in Kaanekkaane instead of coming up with that change all of a sudden. Forensic had him in the thrillers, but Naradan has him with the negative side effectively. Anna Ben has a short period of time to perform here, even though the Kumbalangi Nights, Sara’s and Helen star remains solid during those moments – a better finish would have helped her cause more though. Vijayaraghavan and Joy Mathew have those smaller, but effective roles, even though they should have been there for more. Sharafudheen’s controlled role is really good. Balachandran Chullikkad and Jayaraj Warrier also have those smaller, but notable roles, which could have been expanded too – they just seem to disappear in between. Jaffer Idukki comes up with another role of a priest after Bro Daddy, and that seems to work really well for him. Renji Panicker and Lukman Avaran makes some good lawyers here too.

How it finishes :: Naradan would have been more effective if it came a few years earlier – the media that we know has been replaced by YouTube these days, and the common man seems to believe what is seen on the internet more than the television channels, and with so many such content in YouTube, the real Narada News would be one of the online channels. We do see so many channels which contradict with the news that they come up with, and we have also seen so many fights going on between these people. One would keep wondering where the truth lies with these channels, as there seems to be not much which can be trusted in the online world of chaos with social media being in the front to spread such news – Whatsapp universities and Facebook colleges do that more than anything else, but that is one blame which the films forgets with convenience, but we find some truth and engaging moments here. This is also not an easy task to deal with this topic, but the director of some of my favourite films like Rani Padmini, Mayaanadhi and Virus could have surely done better.

Release date: 3rd March 2022 (Theatre); 8th April 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Anna Ben, Joy Mathew, Vijayaraghavan, Sharafudheen, Balachandran Chullikkad, Raghunath Paleri, Jayaraj Warrier, Kunchan, Rafi, Dileesh Nair, Rajesh Madhavan, Indrans, Lukman Avaran, Jaffer Idukki, Renki Panicker, Vijaykumar Prabhakaran, Koottickal Jayachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Free Guy

Vampire Owl: We are all free vampires in a world of slavery.

Vampire Bat: This not really that much of a world of chains.

Vampire Owl: You are not understanding the power of our chains.

Vampire Bat: There are no chains in this realm which can hold a vampire.

Vampire Owl: I am not talking about the physical chains.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that there is a telepath in the realm?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and she is stronger than any vampire mind reader.

Vampire Bat: You are talking about the legend of the witch-vampire.

Vampire Owl: It is actually the vampire-witch. She is mostly the witch.

Vampire Bat: Just because she knows how travel on a broom-stick, she is now a witch?

[Gets a paneer puffs and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: We are introduced to Free City where people who are wearing sunglasses are heroes, and run the city. They can do almost anything in the city, never really obeying the rules which are applicable to others. Among the many normal people in the city is Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who seems to live a usual kind of life, as he works as a bank teller, and considers his life as a part of a paradise where he lived from the time he can remember. His best friend is the bank’s securiy gurad, Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), who is not really bothered about the bank getting robbed frequently. Everyone out there seems to be very happy, and Guy feels that he has everything that he needs, except for a lover. He attempts to fall in love without success, and feels that he hasn’t really found the right person yet. Soon, he finds a mysterious girl wearing sunglasses, and as he goes after her, is run over by a train. It is soon revealed that the world they are living in is actually a game – a massively multiplayer online role-playing video game, which has Guy as a non-player character.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The mysterious girl is Millie (Jodie Comer) in the avatar Molotov Girl, a player looking for source code to her original game, Life Itself which she wrote with Keys (Joe Keery). It was stolen by Antwan (Taika Waititi), the Soonami CEO who stole it and turned it into something else. Keys wants to help, but prefers to work with Antwan instead, and continue to have a job. At the same time, Guy has deviated from the programme after listening to that unintentional song from Millie. He starts off by asking the wrong coffee instead of the one programmed for the NPC. He also starts talking differently to many people, which leads to changes in the programming of other NPCs too. Soon, he decides to steal the sunglasses, as the girl was also wearing them. He gets one from a robber, and starts seeing things from the perspective of the players from the world outside. It makes him think deviate even further from his original programming.

And what more is here in a world of chaos? :: The programmers think that a hacker from real life has taken over the NPC, and is playing the role differently, feeling that it is indeed a small glitch which will be resolved soon enough. As Millie comes against him, she also feels that he is a player and asks him to level up, so that he could be of more worth, an advice he takes into himself seriously. Unlike the others, he decides to level up by doing good things only, with minimum use of weapons. He begins to try to be like the heroes that he had witnessed on the streets, but with only the good side by helping people in need and fighting some evil. Soon, he becomes a top level player, and is also an internet sensation in the real world. He also saves Millie when she is on a mission to collect the evidence, and she falls in love with him feeling that he is actually a real person who is playing the game. Soon enough, they will understand the same, and so will Antwan. Now, the equations will be complicated. Can the makers find their code, and where does that leave Guy?

The defence of Free Guy :: The movie’s concept is really good, and is a pretty good addition to what we have seen before in different films before. Among the other more famous films, the one which I remember the most is The Thirteenth Floor, even though the world peculiarities also reminds us of the one most famous film, The Matrix. The main character also reminds us of the protagonist of The Lego Movie and the rest of the people like Nerve. We are reminded of the games like Grand Theft Auto, Mafia and The Godfather too. These reminders serve to provide some nostalgia too. The mixture made out of the combination of different interesting things continue to be engaging, and also has a certain amount of humour associated with it. At the same time, there is a strong emotional side which never brings the overdose. The world in the movie is indeed interesting, and there are some fine visuals which support this new universe. It is indeed a stylish and beautiful environment that we have here, and the connection with the original world is well-established.

Positives and negatives :: One might feel that the idea is not new, but the presentation does have some innovation about it, and it never really gets that dark or serious about the happenings around here. Due to the same reason, there can be some predictability here, which they have managed to hide at some points effectively. Ryan Reynolds is here with a fine performance, and a role which is very much more worth appreciation than Deadpool – here he plays one of the most lovable protagonists around, and he seems to do that with ease. As expected, he also excels in the action sequences. Jodie Comer excels in two worlds, and she strikes well with action sequences within the new world and also outside the game. There are some spectacular action scenes with the two around, and would be a case of grandeur on the big screen. Joe Keery also has a nice role to play which he manages well. Lil Rel Howery adds further to the comic side well. Taika Waititi also makes a good villain, the big rich one with only money in his mind.

How it finishes :: Free Guy is that kind of a movie which needs more attention in this part of the world, as it is appropriate for almost every kind of audience. The movie also deals with the idea of existence – maybe we are all in a video game too, and will never know. Maybe we are all programmed to, as there is something special about all of us – then, maybe life has no meaning; all these could be reminded by this one movie. What if we are not programmed to know the truth about our existence? Even in between all these people go for war, and most humans just hate each other. Maybe it would have been all better if this was a video game, for there is so much of hate, and the futility of one’s actions is disheartening. Those who work harder than others and the ones who are the most honest are the ones who suffer the most. You live a life with life-long learning and it might be some moron who gets the job for which you are best qualified – then there are the reservations which hands them the jobs. Maybe, our lives are also programmed – we might be in a video game.

Release date: 13th August 2021
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Seance

Vampire Owl: So, more youngsters are trying to make contact with the dead.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you needn’t be bothered as this is not about the undead.

Vampire Owl: Nobody can contact us through the portal. It has natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: There is absolutely nothing natural about the portal.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has arranged for the natural resistance.

Vampire Bat: If the crazy scientist is involved, it is is surely not natural.

Vampire Owl: You continue to underestimate the doctor.

Vampire Bat: I make no estimate of such a pseudo-scientist.

Vampire Owl: You know that the Frankenstein monster is real.

Vampire Bat: So are his 2897 accidental creations, which are of no use.

[Gets a vancho cake and three glasses of strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: At Edelvine Academy for Girls, Alice (Inanna Sarkis), Bethany (Madisen Beaty) and other girls play a prank on their friends by faking the appearance of the Edelvine Ghost, an urban legend about a student who killed herself – soon, one of their friends, Kerrie (Megan Best), is found dead in the academy hostel, having fallen from her window. A new student Camille (Suki Waterhouse) who has been on the waiting list for the academy admission for a long time, gets the seat which has been left vacant by the death of Kerrie. The headmistress, Mrs Landry (Marina Stephenson Kerr) considers the death as an unfortunate accident, and is happy to have her there. Camille does feel that there is something wrong with the room. She becomes friends with Helina (Ella-Rae Smith), but gets in a fight with Alice and Bethany’s gang including Yvonne (Stephanie Sy), Rosalind (Djouliet Amara) and Lenora (Jade Michael), and gets beaten up by Alice with the help of her friends. The headmistress sends them to detention in the library until a certain amount of archiving is complete.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The girls, despite their differences, decide to work together for the time being to finish the job as soon as possible and get out of there. It is during the detention that Alice convinces the group including Carmille and Helina to join her in a seance meant to contact Kerrie’s spirit and what actually happened. The two get the feeling that this is only a prank, but everyone finds things go out of control as they really seems to make contact with a spirit which tells them that they are going to be murdered by someone only mentioned as “her”. They are not sure if the spirit belongs to Kerrie or the original spirt which is part of the urban legend. Later in the night, Lenora moves away from the others to a lonely area to text a possible future boyfriend, but ends up seeing a masked figure. Soon, she is attacked and killed by the same strange figure. Mrs Landry feels that Lenora had run away as her personal items are missing along with her. Camille feels that her room might still be haunted by Kerrie, and there are enough dark spaces in the building for them to be scared.

And what more is with the girls and the ghosts around here in a world of chaos? :: The police and the parents feels that Lenora might have run away with the man with whom she became acquainted online. With the help of the man in charge of the rooms, Trevor (Seamus Patterson) who also happens to be the son of the headmistress, they get into Lenora’s room and find a strange cross made out of blood on the bed. They identify the symbol as part of the pendant worn by the girl who had killed herself and became Edelvine Ghost. Soon enough, Rosalind would be next person to be murdered by the unknown figure. Her death is considered to be an accident, but has the girls very much worried about what might happen next. Another one of the girls also notice a masked figure in the room, but the headmistress still dismisses it as a strange dream. The girls feel that time is running out for them, and if a solution is not found out soon enough, they are all going to disappear or die soon enough. Yet, it doesn’t make much of sense.

The defence of Seance :: The effects that this movie seems to use for horror seems to be of great quality. There is a fine atmosphere for the horror to grow at all times. The sound effects also nicely contribute to the same. The music is also very nice, and contributes well to the overall atmosphere of the movie – we do feel that it makes us feel more engaged with the whole thing. You think that this is going in one direction, and then there is another dimension to the whole thing – we notice the music changing accordingly, and there are always some fine settings to contribute to the horror. The presence of something sinister is also there, and with the fine use of darkness, the movie assures one of the same. The makers surely know how to get the best ingredients, and arrange them. There are some dialogues which seem to be coming randomly, but they are all of some significance. There are so many directions which this movie could choose, and we can see that it doesn’t try to go for the usual, which has served right – as Robert Frost would say about the road not that much taken making the difference.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has one nice twist to the killings which is pretty much an interesting surprise as the clues wouldn’t lead to the killings that easily. There are many red herrings present in here, as a ghost isn’t everything that we need to suspect around here. They mystery is strong, and there are enough suspects around here for one to await more deaths to happen. It is strange that there are many negative reviews to keep this one down, as we come to know that there is more to this than what can be seen after the first few minutes itself. You have the feeling that this could be Ouija and its sequels or I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequels – this one has the killer and the ghostly presence, which means that your guess can most probably just go wrong. It could have still made the murders look better – even the shower murder scene goes wasted in here. Yet, the girls are too good, especially Suki Waterhouse, Inanna Sarkis and Madisen Beaty who blends in nicely with a possibility to become bigger scream queens of future, Suki also having some fine action sequences – reminds one of The Hunt fights.

How it finishes :: Seance is one find surprise horror movie that seems to have made an impact out of nowhere. We often have the tendency to underestimate movies like these, but some horror films have the skills to lift themselves up despite what you think, especially with so many negative reviews around. There is more than what meets the eye here, and there is the mixture of more than one genre as things come together. Well, horror is rarely one thing – even in real life, there is more than one kind of terror – we had different ones here, from nipah virus to corona virus, excess rainfall leading to floods, rising prices of fuel and the possibility of descending into chaos from what seemed to be good order. The reality of horror which prevails in this thankless world where evil people get the best results can be often more terrifying for people. Otherwise, we will always have movies like this one. Amazon Prime Video has the right horror movie this time, rising very high above last year’s Madres, The Manor and Black as Night.

Release date: 21st May 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith Inanna Sarkis, Marina Stephenson-Kerr, Seamus Patterson

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dune

Vampire Owl: A movie set in the future is the need of the hour.

Vampire Bat: There is no future that Uncle Dracula hasn’t seen.

Vampire Owl: Yet, he decides not to share the vision of future with us.

Vampire Bat: There is no future that we need to know.

Vampire Owl: You are more afraid of the future than the past now?

Vampire Bat: Everything except the present is to be feared.

Vampire Owl: You feel the need to prepared for a future you don’t know.

Vampire Bat: I am always prepared for that fearful future.

Vampire Owl: You can never be enough prepared for the same.

Vampire Bat: Which is why you need to be afraid of the future.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: The year is 10191, and in Caladan, the homeworld of House Atreides, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), the Duke of House Atreides is asked by the emperor of the Known Universe to replace House Harkonnen as the rulers of Arrakis, a desert planet which serves as the only source of spice, an incredibly valuable substance that improves human abilities and helps them to go on interstellar travel faster than light safely. But the brutal race of Harkonnens in their homeworld, Giedi Prime won’t be that happy about it as they had held the area for about eighty years. Beast Rabban Harkonnen (Dave Bautista), the leading fighter among them is certainly not happy, but it turns out that the emperor means something else with these actions. Leto does feel that there is something wrong about all of these, and that the emperor has some sinister motives, but decides to form an alliance with the native fighters known as Fremen instead of enslaving them, thus bringing a twist to the plans.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) is the heir to the throne of House Atreides, and is worried about the recent happenings, as he had also come up against many nightmares about the planet which his people were going to invade. Paul’s mother Lady Jessica Atreides (Rebecca Ferguson) is a part of the Bene Gesserit, a group meant only for women, whose members have advanced physical and mental abilities – the group is not happy about Jessica having a male child instead of the female one which she was supposed to have. They are hoping for a perfect messiah-like superhuman who can guide humanity to a better future, and wonders if Paul is the one, even though he surely has a long way to go. House Atreides takes control and arrives on Arrakis, and the people there seems to appreciate them, especially Jessica and Paul. The terrain and the buildings in the place seems to be completely different, and Paul feels that Bene Gesserit is planting unnecessary superstitions about a messiah there too.

And what more can we expect in this world which has so many secrets in store? :: Paul understands more and more about the planet, its deep-rooted trees, sandworms and strongly held strange beliefs. Dr Liet Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) who serves as the judge of the change and the imperial ecologist talks to them about the dangers which exist there. Leto has a talk with Stilgar (Javier Bardem), the leader of the Fremens, and it goes on well. During a flight above the sands, they come against one of the sandworms coming towards a spice harvester which had almost finished harvesting. The group rescues the crew members, as the sandworms take the harvesting machine. They understand that the equipment out there are not good enough, and will not help them to bring the spice production back strong – they feel that they are destined to fail, and then someone else will take over. Meanwhile, at Salusa Secundus, the Imperial Army Planet, certain preparations are going on, and certain terror awaits.

The defence of Dune :: This movie, as any other story in a future set in another planet would come up with, has a grand spectacle in store, as far as the visuals are concerned. These worlds become part of you as it would do each and every time in Star Trek, Alien or the computer games like Mass Effectspace exploration never gets old. The special effects are used very effectively and the world detailing is really good – the details do not stop at the world with its buildings and people as it goes further with so many things established in this first movie which seems to serve as the pillars to what is to come later. There are also lots of action sequences, and we have that feeling of Game of Thrones coming back here after such a long time – well, War of the Roses can keep showing up in many movies and series in style. Based on one of the world’s best selling and the most appreciated science fiction novels, you would have always known what this movie would be capable of, with the use of new technology. The movie also serves as a reminder that the wars are forever, as long as any humanoid is alive in this galaxy or the others.

Positives and negatives :: The movie does remind you of a few others, but that is understandable as the story of human greed for power has remained the same throughout years. The film is also long, and the run-time might not be acceptable to most people as there are many scenes which seems to slow down things much. The movie is also not an easy movie to follow if you keep your eyes off the screen during regular intervals – there are many characters who are to be remembered and there are so many dialogues coming not just in English. The movie feels like that kind of a movie which will require you to have a bigger screen. This is also like a few drops of water in an ocean, as the world here seems to be huge, and there are so many books in this series which can be made into spectacular movies. The movie did have its own adaptations earlier, but this one right here might be the biggest of them all, even though one does feel at times that things could have been more direct – Jupiter Ascending, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and John Carter, two highly underrated inter-planetary movies could do that.

How it finishes :: Dune begins the journey of an epic really well, and has us waiting for the next movie in the series. As it is based on a 1965 epic science fiction novel by the American author Frank Herbert, there will always be questions about how much the adaptation had done justice to the original work. As I haven’t read the book, that wouldn’t be on my list of things to do, but I am sure that this movie is indeed a remarkable work that one will remember and shall wait for a possible sequel. The book did have five sequels after the first one – Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune. The sequel to the first movie and featuring the second half of the first book, Dune: Part Two will be releasing next year. So, this is not the end, but the beginning, and we can always hope for the tale to be continued in a better way as the basic origin story has been established well. The same would be in theatres unless corona virus will have another ride on its pale horse.

Release date: 22nd October 2021; 25th March 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Charlotte Rampling, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Long Halloween II

Vampire Owl: So, the long Halloween continues.

Vampire Bat: A Halloween can go on as much as one full year.

Vampire Owl: If so, what is the significance of the celebration?

Vampire Bat: An year long celebration can still be a good enough one.

Vampire Owl: You just cannot celebrate at all times.

Vampire Bat: The undead life requires something like this all the time.

Vampire Owl: So, it is like we are having Halloween now too?

Vampire Bat: Yes, it will only boost our undead skills and abilities.

Vampire Owl: Halloween, with an extension, can provide that boost?

Vampire Bat: Why don’t you ask your favourite doctors, Mr Frankenstein?

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: The unknown killer continues hunting in Gotham City which makes Commissioner Gordon (Billy Burke) highly disappointed, while Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) has taken control of Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) as Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver) wishes to take advantage of his business to launder his money. With Bruce Wayne in her influence, taken to a fake romantic world where he signs away most of his assets to Carmine. Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) is as much disappointed as the Commissioner as Batman doesn’t shows up, due to the seduction of Ivy. Catwoman a.k.a. Selina Kyle (Naya Rivera) discovers that something is wrong, and pays a visit to the Wayne Manor, as she discovers a woman making him doing whatever she wanted him to do. Catwoman manages to defeat Poison Ivy after a long struggle, freeing Bruce Wayne from her floral toxins and mind-controlling pheromones. As he comes out of the feeling, he understands that he has ben so for months.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Bruce contacts his lawyers, and as Batman, he gets back to action, trying to stop the Scarecrow (Robin Atkin Downes), only to get injected with a fear-inducing toxin, leaving him to relive the night of his parents’ murder. Catwoman finds him looking for his mother in the streets, and gets him home. Sofia Falcone (Laila Berzins), Carmine’s daughter looks forward to a seat at the family table, but he refuses. Gordon and Harvey puts Bruce in their list of suspects, as he was the only one who was part of that programme, but didn’t give a statement. But it seems that Bruce has already paid for enough of alibis, and he assures them that his only connection with the Falcone family was because of his father saving the life of Carmine once and building hospitals together for the people of the city. For every other connection, he assures them that he was manipulated. On Father’s Day, when Carmine’s enemy gang’s most senior member is murdered, they join Harvey.

And what more is to happen with the superheroes here? :: Harvey is glad that as he is able to get a chance to finally put Carmine in prison. Batman fights Scarecrow as the latter goes on to rob a bank for Carmine, but with the help of the Mad Hatter (John DiMaggio), he manages to capture him. At the same time, Catwoman saves Harvey and wife from being shot by a stranger, who hits her on the head hard enough to render her unconscious. As this stranger, who is supposed to be a hitman of Carmine is also murdered, Harvey continues to be in the suspect list for being the serial killer, while others including Batman and the villains out of Arkham Asylum are also part of the list of suspects. Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore) might also want to say something about it. As Harvey’s obsession with the Falcone family continues, his wife Gilda Dent (Julie Nathanson) begins to hope for a counselling and even a divorce. Can things get any more complicated for Batman and the Commissioner? How many killings are to follow now?

The defence of Batman: Long Halloween: Part Two :: The second part does take the mystery to a stronger level. As it gets closer to the big revelation, there are some nice moments which serve as subplots, and we also have some nice red herrings along with those clues which seem to point to the right direction. The dark elements of the first movie are carried over well, and the animation looks as good as the previous one, and the addition of two great villains, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow serves as the perfect boost to the movie – they have been my favourites for long, as nature and fear are two things which truly belong to this world. The movie also leaves something for the continuation of this story as we see something more after the credits. The Bat and the Cat moments are among the best, and we know where this year’s Batman gets the strength from. We also understand the characters better in this part, and can also realize the reasons behind all that are happening here. The conclusion is to be enjoyed better than the beginning.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does have its own predictable parts, and we can guess a number of things early enough. Once again one would want the Joker to given a bigger role to play in the scheme of things, and Penguin actually has even less to do. The whole thing also takes a little bit of time to get going after the initial fight with Poison Ivy. It doesn’t seem to have full control of things in the middle. The emotional side of the movie could have been used throughout its run rather than getting limited. Mad Hatter is also nothing, but serves as a little side-kick to Scarecrow. Just like the first one, this movie also required more of the superhero side, even though it is more than what we had seen in the earlier movie. Batman as a superhero without superpowers is still the force to reckon with – we need him to do what he has always done the best, more than anything else. Arksham Asylum also gets less of its due. The madness had a better chance to appear around here in full form, but the same is not taken.

How it finishes :: This movie, as well as the first part, also serves as a tribute to Naya Rivera, the actress who voiced the Catwoman, and died by drowning earlier. Then we have the mystery being solved in this movie, and the clues which were left in the first movie seems to be leading to a different space as everything comes together in the end. Among the animated movies, this one has a space, as much as it has among the superhero movies. This one, with two parts, won’t become Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, Big Hero 6 or Inside Out, but it does have enough to add strength to the particular genre. This one is different, and is stronger than what we think about it as an animated movie similar to the television series which we used to watch on television during childhood. Do watch this conclusion after watching the first movie, and the journey is very much enjoyable – we also hope that more similar movies will be made and shall also arrive at Amazon Prime Video to make sure that we are into them.

Release date: 27th July 2021
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Chris Palmer
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke, Alastair Duncan, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, David Dastmalchian, Julie Nathanson, Gary LeRoi Gray, Fred Tatasciore, Jim Pirri, Titus Welliver, Katee Sackhoff, Robin Atkin Downes, Alyssa Diaz, Laila Berzins, John DiMaggio

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Long Halloween I

Vampire Owl: This reminds me of more than one Halloween.

Vampire Bat: You just cannot have enough of that festival.

Vampire Owl: It is not a festival, but life itself.

Vampire Bat: We are not even alive.

Vampire Owl: During Halloween, all the undead comes alive.

Vampire Bat: We come alive during the Night of the Dead.

Vampire Owl: I am not talking about that type of being alive.

Vampire Bat: So, you are talking about the life that Mr Frankenstein has.

Vampire Owl: You do not need to drag Doctor Frankenstein into this.

Vampire Bat: He doesn’t need to be dragged as he comes uninvited every time.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: When the nephew of a mob boss in Gotham City, Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver), is murdered by an unknown figure who leaves a Halloween lantern at the crime scene, Commissioner Gordon (Billy Burke) seeks the help of both Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne (Jensen Ackles) and Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) for help with the investigation. Catwoman a.k.a. Selina Kyle (Naya Rivera) calls the Wayne Manor on Halloween, while the night only seems to get stranger, and Batman feels that the city has fallen without any hope for a return to its former glory. Harvey also feels that the place has turned into something like a ghost town, as it seems worse on the Halloween night. He feels that it was the uncle who arranged the murder because the dead man was going to help the police department, even though nobody was supposed to know about it. Falcone crime family was going to be taken down, and Harvey feels that their best chance has been missed due to the murder.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Carmine feels that it was Harvey who killed his nephew, and thinks that there could be a right moment for them to strike. As there are other gangs after them, he also decides to move his assets to a more secure facility. Catwoman leads Batman to the cash stockpile owned by Carmine. After doing a coin flip, Harvey decides to burn the money, as it would take them a lot of time to move this much of cash. Carmine who understands the role of Harvey behind all of these, hires Mickey Chen (Greg Chun) to kill him and Gilda Dent (Julie Nathanson). They survive the bomb attack on the house, but are hospitalized, with Harvey getting the worst of it. Batman chases down Mickey, and both run into Solomon Grundy Fred Tatasciore) after a fight with Mickey’s friends. Solomon almost kills him, before being pursuaded by Batman to leave him. But without evidence, Mickey is to be left free. There is nothing to link him to the bombing, and Gordon feels that Batman should have done better.

And what more is to happen with the superheroes here? :: Mickey feels that the bombing was ordered as an act of vengeance for the murder of Carmine’s nephew. Carmine also looks down upon his son Alberto Falcone (Jack Quaid) whom he considers to be too weak to handle the family business, or anything of use. Harvey escapes from the hospital and during the same night, Mickey and his friends are killed by someone. Gordon had also left Harvey with a gun to protect himself. The murder had happened on another holiday after Halloween, and as Christmas approaches, another one might take place – Batman and Gordon tries everything that they can, including taking advice from the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Soon, they realize that Joker (Troy Baker) has escaped from the mental institution. Joker does visit Harvey, and threatens him as he is also a suspect in being a killer – he doesn’t want anyone else to be the leading homicidal maniac in the city. But finding the real killer on holidays, there is the need for more than one detective or vigilante.

The defence of Batman: Long Halloween: Part One :: There is a different kind of feeling with the atmosphere of this particular movie, as it is not the usual superhero movie that you see anywhere around. It seems to have kept itself close to the feeling of a comics, but is not far from the quality of an animated series. We all remember having watched some animated series about Batman on television, and those episodes were very much enjoyed by us. We are brought back to that feeling yet again, and the dark atmosphere and the visuals are rightly suitable for this world of Batman’s Gotham City. It is the world in which a vampire would thrive better than a man in a bat’s costume, and with the quality being maintained here, one won’t hesitate to be there. Batman, as the superhero without superpowers, is the man whom we would always be looking for, as more than just the superhero – he is one among us, and it is once again proven here as there so many mistakes that he seems to make, along with mostly capturing the criminals and saving the day. Also, the Catwoman gets her due.

The claws of flaw :: The superhero elements go missing around here, and the investigative thriller comes to the front, with the hero turning into a detective – not something that many fans would prefer over the man they know well. The investigation seems to have gone rather too slow, and unlike the superhero world with investigation, this chooses for a universe of investigation with some superhero elements which are often not visible at all. As it drags at times, and we do feel that some part of it could have been stronger and sharper. It required to have a quick and clear path of investigation. The fights are very less, and there seems to be focus on having more dialogues. Some of these dialogues do make us feel that there is something that has gone missing – maybe we didn’t catch something from a previous movie or the fully myth. Joker is not really given the appreciation that the character has demanded throughout the ages – we would have hoped for the better when we knew that he was there in the movie.

How it finishes :: Batman: Long Halloween: Part One begins a journey which is divided into two. The first part has managed to be interesting enough, and moved through the mood of a murder investigation, having a serial killer at work. With the movie stopping in the middle, one still has to watch the second film to understand how all of these will turn out to be. It is actually nice to have this movie divided into two, as a longer version of this would have turned out to be too much of a killer of time. As this one, as well as the second part are available on Amazon Prime Video, these can actually be watched together if one needs continuity. Some interesting animated movies have been the need for the time, for Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, Big Hero 6, Inside Out and team have all seem to have disappeared too early, and the only ones we are left with, are those Hotel Transylvania movies and its sequel. Let us have this type of animated movies, for we can celebrate the divergence as long as the work is good.

Release date: 22nd June 2021
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Chris Palmer
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Billy Burke, Alastair Duncan, Troy Baker, Amy Landecker, David Dastmalchian, Julie Nathanson, Gary LeRoi Gray, Fred Tatasciore, Jim Pirri, Titus Welliver

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Justice Society: WW II

Full Title: Justice Society: World War II

Vampire Owl: Do you know that I had participated in the Second World War?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure if you are talking about the war that we know about.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about that very long and tiring magical war between vampires, zombies, witches and werewolves.

Vampire Bat: I am glad that you are not talking about that useless human war.

Vampire Owl: Human wars are those of greed and are always useless.

Vampire Bat: What did you do in our world war?

Vampire Owl: Ask me what I didn’t do then.

Vampire Bat: You were quite a young vampire during that time.

Vampire Owl: There is a story about my victory against the zombies.

Vampire Bat: There was no victory against the zombies. They just left the battle as there was the need for search for brains to eat.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: In Earth-two, the parallel universe, Nazi Germany has conquered most of Europe, winning most of the battles of the Second World War, and also possesses some magical artifacts. The United States gets involved in the war, as a team of superheroes called Justice Society of America has been formed with Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos), Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), Hawkman (Omid Abtahi), The Flash (Armen Taylor), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru) and Hourman (Matthew Mercer). Hourman who has been a scientist, has developed a chemical called Miraclo which enhances all of his skills for about an hour. Black Canary has her sonic sound abilities. The Flash, with his superhuman speed, has been a full-time crime fighter always willing to serve his country. Hawkman, an ancient Egyptian in a modern Egyptian’s body, is also available for service. Wonder Woman will lead this team, as they hope to end this war before the Nazis get hold of all those artifacts and use them against the United States.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Back on Earth-one, its Flash (Matt Bomer) is going through a picnic with Iris West (Ashleigh LaThrop), but their plans to get away from the usual work is disrupted by Superman (Darren Criss) fighting Brainiac (Darin De Paul), a seemingly extra-terrestrial android with mechanical minions to support him, and has been the person responsible for the destruction of the planet of Krypton. The enemy is basically a supercomputer with artificial intelligence and an android body which gives him superhuman strength, durability, healing, flight, telekinesis and many other abilities which allows him to bring a strong fight to Superman. As Brainiac fires a Kryptonite bullet towards Superman, Flash tries to stop it, but he runs so fast that he channels the Speed Force. This means that he arrives at a time when the Nazis are fighting the Justice Society, and he feels that he has arrived in the past, when the Second World War was happening in their world. With the superheroes on their side, the United States, Britain and its allies seem to do better in a Nazi occupied France.

And what more is to happen with the superheroes here? :: But even after two years, the war doesn’t seem to end. The team is initially suspicious about him, but understands that he is also like them, and only wants to help humanity as a superhero. Barry as Flash also saves Trevor and also a number of civilians. They also feels that he is from the future. The team does take Barry into their team. They feel that they can use him in saving a codebreaker from a Nazi fortress, as only he can decode an encrypted message. But everything is not that right with the team, as the Black Canary feels that there is no point in doing all of these as they are not even remembered due to the whole thing being top secret, while the two Flashes have gone weaker in strength with them being together. Wonder Woman does have the romantic problems, and Hawkman still has trouble with dealing with his past life. It is then that the Flash realizes that this is not the world that he knows about – then there is Aquaman whom they come across on the way. He has to find a way to return to the other Earth, but it won’t be that easy.

The defence of Justice Society: World War II :: The movie has managed to make use of the parallel universe idea well, and has nicely placed the Justice Society during the time of World War II. The superheroes who are basically unknown to us are also introduced well. After all, the world can always use more imaginary superheroes, as we are all going to suffer in this world of chaos, and hope for the impossible is necessary. Black Canary, Hawkman and Hourman are not the kind of heroes with whom the audience of this part of the world are that familiar – they do get some introduction here. Unless one has been watching the series and all, the idea of the second Earth will also feel new, and it also gets the introduction here. The whole thing has also been nicely blended into the Second World War’s procedures. It is interesting enough to make us think about many other parallel universes, and also those with the Nazis winning. The underwater world has also been nicely incorporated into the story, and there are also some nice twists, even though they can be guessed up to an extent.

The claws of flaw :: Some of the characters could have been better, especially Wonder Woman, who doesn’t seem to be that interesting as Gal Gadot had portrayed her. From the clothing itself, this one seems to be very much unlike the one we know, even in a parallel universe – the freedom there doesn’t do well enough to make the character interesting. The other superheroes of the parallel universe are the ones whom we know less about, and therefore their versions only count as a positive addition. There could have also been more action, as there is scope for this movie to increase the total running time. The Nazi elements could have also been developed further, as we don’t see enough of them doing what we expect them to do. We don’t even get to their main areas with those special villains becoming part of them. Instead, we are having some of those rather weaker antagonists along with the talk about Nazis taking over the whole world. They could have developed this in a different way, and at the same time, without being repetitive with things.

How it finishes :: Here is another superhero movie which has Justice League-style coming together of heroes to save the world, even though in another parallel universe. It is a clear thing that humanity is going destroy itself, whether there are wars or not – the imaginary presence of these superheroes are indeed belonging to hope, and therefore, we always have our eyes in this genre. Amazon Prime Video does have this flick, and we can only be happy that they do, because people in this part of the world won’t be able to watch it otherwise. The film is the usual superhero thing in essence, and we can watch it just like we go through the rest of the movies of the genre. This is also that kind of a movie which can be divided into three parts to watch as a series. Well, superheroes need to bring that faith, belief and hope, don’t they? One can only wonder what the evil humans will have to think about it – hope for the superheroes to die maybe?

Release date: 27th April 2021
Running time: 84 minutes
Directed by: Jeff Wamester
Starring: Stana Katic, Matt Bomer, Elysia Rotaru, Chris Diamantopoulos, Omid Abtahi, Matthew Mercer, Armen Taylor, Liam McIntyre

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.