2014 in Review

Happy New Year everyone. This is the annual review time! Here are my choices for the year, not concerned with the opinion of the critics.

Best Malayalam movie: Iyobinte Pusthakam
We had to wait a long to have a Malayalam movie which could stand strong in comparison to so many good ones from last year. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/iyobinte-pusthakam/

Best Hindi movie: Mardaani
There is absolutely no doubt about this one, and even as I haven’t reviewed it yet, there is no shortage of some good opinions about this one. I was pretty late in realizing this movie’s abilities. I might write about it sometime later.

Best English movie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Marvel’s most intelligent movie until now happens to be the best from Hollywood in the year, even as there are more movies missing a release here this year. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/captain-america-ii/

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Best Animated movie: Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Forget the fans of The Lego Movie and Big Hero 6, as this was undoubtedly the best animated movie of the year, and working for everyone. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/mr-peabody-sherman/

Best Action movie: Hercules
The Rock as Hercules – it delivers as it had promised; there is no doubt about who the super action star is right here. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/hercules/

Best Visual experience: Exodus: Gods and Kings
This visually superior movie, even without too much ciritcal appreciation, is that Biblical Epic that everyone has been waiting for. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/exodus/

Best Thrills: Gone Girl
This movie has that kind of thrills that not many people might have expected, and it surely holds on to that variety in its path to success. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/gone-girl/

Big Surprise: Asha Black
Not that inspiring from the name, and not at all hyped, this movie is strong in its theme, but didn’t run that well in the theatres. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/ashablack/

Righteous One: London Bridge
This movie is so simple and yet scores with its goodness and hidden boost of the morality tale’s seed which grows powerful every second. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/london-bridge/

Magical Movie: Iyobinte Pusthakam
This movie is magical with its visuals and the way in which it deals with its world and the situations, supported by history and fiction equally. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/iyobinte-pusthakam/

Powerful Experience: Apothecary
The power of the message and the strength of the depiction of events make this one a big, powerful experience despite the presence of flaws. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/apothecary/

Game Changer: Om Shanti Oshana
As this one twists the viewpoint, and progresses from the perspective of the girl child hoping to win her love all the time, we can be sure about the beginning of a change. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/om-shanti-oshana/

Personal Favourite: 300: Rise of an Empire
I have been waiting for this movie for a very long time, and with the visual style and Eva Green, I don’t see any reason why not. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/300-rise-of-an-empire/

Unnoticed One: Naku Penta Naku Taka
I had a tough time making sure that I got the tickets and the show was not cancelled, but this a lot better movie and deserved a better chance. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/nakupenta/

 

Worst Malayalam movie: Salaala Mobiles
This one has Dulquer Salman and Nazriya Nazim, and that star combination has somehow managed to bring so much boredom to the viewers that its success is only in being the worst movie of the decade.

Worst Hindi movie: Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania
Thinking that this is Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, and coming up with cheap jokes and stupid imitations, this movie has two dumb protagonists falling in love with each other, and the good guy getting nothing while the shameless pseudo-hero gets the girl.

Worst English movie: Noah
Noah’s horrible drag supports only the bloody nonsense that it shows on screen and despite the deviation from the Bible, it hasn’t found anything interesting for Christians or Non-Christians. My friends get scared of the name “Noah” because of this movie.

Most Undeserving Hit: 1983
This movie’s unnecessary glorification of cricket and its players is rather boring, repetitive and should be an invisible hope for match-fixing as well as a purely money based sport which is beyond the common man’s grasp.

Worst Drift: Dedh Ishqiya
This is the biggest collection of meaningless drag becoming rather a drift with unbelievable amount of ridiculous stuff which has only Hima Qureshi and a nice twist; everything else is complete waste of time.

Worst Drag: 2 States
As it keeps dragging, the movie has nothing that invokes interest except for its silliness which is beyond the borders of the horizon, and its dumb, fake love is glorified like that of Twilight and similar nonsense stuff.

Worst Emptiness: Gunday
As the one movie which seems to have Priyanka Chopra forcing the viewers to hope for the death of her character, but goes on only to reach the much expected end which is not much different from the beginning of the movie – not worth it.

Worst Lie: Hasee Toh Phasee
This movie becomes a big love lie with a strange beginning involving Parineeti Chopra who rarely manages to be not irritating in her new avatar which ends up glorifying the process of stealing at home and also brings up pseudo-love supported by stupid comic scenes.

Worst Stupidity: Main Tera Hero
Here comes Besharam’s evil twin which is so stupid that its collective dumbness makes the equal of foolishness that Ranbir Kapoor’s character had come up with . A more appropriate title would be Main Tera Zero: Irritating Version. Yaariyan almost took this title away.

Unbearable One: Gangster
As one of those movies which makes the viewers suffer so much, this can have the title of being the worst movie of Mammootty, Aashiq Abu and the worst gangster movie of this century, a record which might not be broken for a long time.

Clueless One: Yaariyan
Yaariyan wanders here and there, exhibiting stupidity all the way from India to Australia with a rather racist tone in targeting another race, nation and continent glorifying one culture over the other and proclaims its cluelessness.

Worst Hype: Transcendence
Coming to the theatres with such huge hype, what it delivers can be considered as terribly boring and never anywhere close to being good. Its central idea itself doesn’t work, and there is no point in anything else.

Special Consideration from the Soul:
Best Actor/Actress who made a difference: Shailene Woodley (Divergent / The Fault in Our Stars)
Best Actor/Actress with a surprise: Imogen Poots (Need for Speed)
Best Actor/Actress in a dumb movie: Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy)
Best Actor/Actress with heroism: Chris Evans (Captain America II)
Best Actor/Actress on villainy: Eva Green (300 II)
*This is only based on the movies I have watched.

Most read movie reviews of the year:
1. Om Shanti Oshana (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/om-shanti-oshana/) {All-time 1st}
2. Saptamasree Thaskaraha (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/sapthamashree-thaskaraha/) {All-time 3rd following Drishyam}
3. Hate Story II (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/hate-story-ii/) {All-time 5th following Oru Indian Pranaya Katha}
4. London Bridge (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/london-bridge/)
5. Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/mosa/)

2014 Theatre Status:
**89 movies watched on the big screen this year, with 66 of them reviewed. There were 44 English movies, 32 Malayalam movies, 10 Hindi movies and 3 Tamil movies. Total Reviews including honorary ones = 73.
Movies inspiring more than one theatre visit: 1: Om Shanti Oshana {2 times} (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/om-shanti-oshana/)

2013 Theatre Status:
**103 movies watched on the big screen last year, with 71 of them reviewed. There were 44 English movies, 43 Malayalam movies, 12 Hindi movies and 4 Tamil movies. Total Reviews including honorary ones = 109.

Most visits from outside India in 2014
1. United States :: 2. United Arab Emirates :: 3. United Kingdom :: 4. Canada :: 5. Pakistan :: 6. Australia :: 7. Singapore :: 8. Saudi Arabia :: 9. Qatar :: 10. Spain

For what to begin the year with, read https://theteacerebration.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/introvert-queen/
For my earlier take on what is to come in 2015 for Hollywood, check https://theteacerebration.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/brightfuture/

Man of Steel

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Behold this moment, for this is that period of time when our childhood superhero, the most popular one of that time, would seem to be someone else when we look at the name of the movie which features him, but then we realize that he is still Superman.  He is the Man of Steel, as Batman is the Dark Knight, both rises and without any doubt, both would end. Both have changed and evolved so much that one can no longer use the common joke about Superman and Batman, what differentiates them from the common man without superpowers is the way they make the underwear into outerwear; for The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel no longer comes with the same, may be they found it incredibly difficult to find one, or in more modern terms, it doesn’t suit the new generation of so called stylish people who despite their own traditions in every possible way.  It is still good that they have learnt that what is to be worn inside should remain inside.  Actually, they are both not the superheroes who continue the legacy, as they move out of it.  Another thing is about this Steel Man and the Iron Man; considering the success of the Man of Iron, may be Man of Steel can make an impact close to enough to it, at least with the adults who still think Superman is a little childish, and with no doubts, too powerful for anyone to like. So, this is a new superhuman, as the alien takes a turn at the road not taken except for Christopher Nolan’s Batman.

This movie begins in another solar system, another galaxy, which might be strange for a superhero movie, as it is not usually expected unless the protagonist is He-Man of Eternia with all the focus on Castle Grayskull. But, this is a change which works quite well. We see that when the planet Krypton is facing total annihilation due to an unstable core, Jor-El and his wife Lara launch a small spaceship carrying their newborn son Kal-El and a genetic codex. Zod arrives in time, but fails to stop the launch; in rage, he murders Jor-El, but is captured, and he and his supporters are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, a prison which holds its prisoners who suffer for almost eternity, thus serving as a device for damnation beyond the control of Satan. But they manage to escape when Krypton explodes and their control over the jail is gone. They travel around different planets looking for life as well as things to salvage. Meanwhile, Kal-El lands on Earth and is discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their son. So, the Earth’s location and its peculiarities provide the kid with superhuman abilities, which he manages to control with the help of his foster parents. This is where Superman begins his second phase, and the first known phase of this whole sequence of origins.

Living a wanderer’s life fearing for his own power and the possible reaction of the people of Earth about his strength and abilities, he finds a Kryptonian spaceship fron under the ice and meets the hologram of his own father which explains to him more about himself and his origins. The Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane comes to know about the same, but decides not to publish about him without his consent. Meanwhile, Zod finds his existence and comes to Earth with his followers and it is where the twist of fate takes place and the fun begins with the life or death situations, not just for Superman, but also for all Earthlings, all threatened by the superior technology and weapons of the Kryptonians as well as their superhuman strength on Earth. As he plans to terraform Earth and make it another Krypton, eradicating the whole population and replacing them with the Kryptonians with the help of the genetic codex, Superman chooses the side with which he is not supposed to get along despite his own evolution, that is humans. This is the choice which will define him in what is to come, as he is the alien, ghost as well as the guardian angel. With the help of the military and whatever is on his side, he has to prepare for the final battle, as the Kryptonians launch a world engine which terraforms the planet.

I guess Zack Snyder’s movies have never really disappointed me it, as Dawn of the Dead was good, Watchmen was even better, 300 was very impressive, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole had my attention, Sucker Punch was much above the expectations, and here is Man of Steel which raises the expectations for the upcoming 300: Rise of an Empire for which it is incredibly difficult to wait. That should be a hundred percent record which is not seemingly inclined towards being broken. To add to it, the Greek hero of Immortals & the fairy tale princess-to-be from Enchanted make such a genuine combination on-screen even between such complexity and duality which surround an extraterrestrial heritage of thirty three years. Henry Cavill makes that super impact while Amy Adams as Lois Lane makes that character much more dearer to the viewers. Princess Giselle or Amelia Earheart from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will now be more of Lois Lane, and that less known Theseus surely has a more powerful real demi-god status this time. But this Superman is not just any other alien, as he is more human than any of the most wretched Earthling. He is more concerned about Earth and human life than the average common man who feeds on his own people and the mother nature. Superman is less involved with that title “super” which is a relief, as it is that word which one uses as a lie when many other words fail; welcome relief again.

As the movie is more inclined towards the Dark Knight series in its theme, but still resembles The Avengers in its alien invasion sequences, there is more to look forward to. Michael Shannon plays the impressive villain, General Zod – an iconic supervillain for sure. The villain is made for what he does, as the newborn babies are all created to be someone; to follow a path or duty – there is no moment when the person looks less focused on the one aim which is the return of Krypton’s life. It is more of a reflection of the current age, when the children are programmed into professional courses, rather than letting them make a choice. The result is just a profit-oriented world without morality and values, slowly moving towards total annihilation as in the case of Krypton. Antje Traue as Faora makes the villain’s sidekick, may be even as good as the General himself. Going back to her role in Pandorum, she is that person one might wish to watch in most of the action movies. Her fight sequence with Superman can be considered second only to the final battle. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, the editor in chief of the Daily Planet, is that role which is surely going to be explored a lot in case of a sequel. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane plays the roles of Superman’s adoptive parents, and Russel Crowe and Ayelet Zurer his real parents from Krypton, providing some of the best emotional moments of the movie.

The movie is about choices, as Superman chooses to be human and not of his kind, and also chooses to hide between the people with whom he doesn’t belong. He also chooses to end his planet’s last hope of survival by helping the Earthlings. That might have brought the end of his culture and heritage, and all those which he could have achieved as the hero of his own race. In all these decisions, he makes him the most vulnerable, more mentally than physically. Superman is more of a man than the super being, something we could never associate with him during our childhood. Right now, it will be just right to say that he has made himself the most righteous superhero, many times better than Iron Man, and also above his nearest competitors who are Batman and Spider-Man. Well, this is set to break box-office records for sure, and it is already pulling in too much crowd at this part of the world even for those shows which are usually not even a quarter full. The lower critical ratings of this movie compared to the ones like The Avengers and Iron Man 3 forms another thing which is out of this world. The former has such ratings that even Superman might decide to choose any random Kryptonite prison for eternity rather than seeing these one-sided opinions which so many people are actually forced to believe. The movie also proves this dialogue from Kill Bill wrong: “Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman.” Superman became superman because Earth made him so; he was nothing at Krypton. Everybody has life molded by choices, whether it is Superman, Count Dracula, Batman or Skeletor, and it is faith, belief and hope that guides one side, and the exact opposites the other.

So, Man of Steel is a must watch for all action fans, as this genesis go back to the planet of Krypton with stunning visuals and powerful sound effects. There is still the emotional element which has not let go; not yet. The effect of The Dark Knight series is also something which seems to hide, but still stays there. The action sequences are breath-taking, and one can see how well one superhero does all that the whole team in The Avengers could barely manage to do – some might disagree, and they can have enough reasons for that. Here is the man who can smash and also get beaten up like the Hulk and Thor, be aggressive and agile as the Iron Man, be righteous and true to the cause like Captain America, be as accurate as the Hawkeye, and be a better fighter than the Black Widow. This one has won the battle of superheroes this year, as Iron Man 3 would surely have to take the backseat, not by a long distance though, for both would seem to belong to different genres as we consider the souls of them. Thor: The Dark World wouldn’t stand a chance as far as the things seem to be now. This is where you see the need for He-Man and The Phantom again, but this year has been booked by the alien from the other planet, and there is nothing to be done other than to watch this one and enjoy it.

Release date: 14th June 2013
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Iron Man III

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A long time ago, there was the age of superheroes – some people might call it childhood; and during that age, three of the most significant superheroes might have been Superman, He-Man and The Phantom. But life changes and the focus had to shift to Spider-Man, a process which was boosted by the release of a movie starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Then Christian Bale and Liam Neeson had their say with that Christopher Nolan movie which shifted the scene to Batman. Iron Man came later, but survived through the assault of the bat on all the superheroes making the darkest and the not-so-super one the superior crime fighter. The man of iron was seen more as a lesser superhero compared to the man of steel as well as the man of darkness, but the series stepped on this prejudice and has given the viewers the third movie with no rust. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never failed in that case, as it has impressed me not only with the the three movies of this series, but also with those movies – with the incredible man-monster painted all green by science, with the alien god of the other world with a hammer, with the captain and defender of honour with that shield, and not to forget – with all of of them were combined and put together in a brilliant manner. These movies which are not named are quite easy to find out, and it is due to their popularity itself.

The movie occurs sometime after the alien invasion, the much effective team work, and all those events of The Avengers. Tony Stark has been too much concerned about the safety of his girlfriend, the new Stark Industries chief Pepper Potts; he has filled his place with Iron Man armour and most of them now works on their own according to his command. But soon, it is realized that the alien invasion is not what would be the upcoming terror for him, as Stark, with his lover of the time, and brilliant scientist Maya Hansen, had avoided the crippled scientist Aldrich Killian, whose dreams are shattered beyond repair. Meanwhile, a series of bombings by an unknown terrorist, the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies with no evidence to get on with their investigation as there is no bomb found. When Stark Industries security chief happens to be a victim of such an attack, Stark issues a threat to the Mandarin, and soon gets an unexpected response as he destroys Stark’s home with helicopters fitted with guns. Stark is taken far away from the site by his artificial intelligence and finds himself reported dead and too weak in power to return.

During his journey to revival, he discovers that the explosions were triggered by soldiers from an experimental treatment which would allow people to recover from horrible injuries. It is their bodies which couldn’t handle the programme that exploded. He also discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor named Trevor Slattery and the terrorist is a creation of Killian who has also kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to the same treatment. The President is also his target and for that, he has taken control of the War Machine armour which has been serving to protect the President. Now, the Iron Man has to deal with all his problems including the anxiety disorder which followed the near-death experience related to that alien invasion event, his love which he had failed to show as well as prove in the middle of all the chaos, save the world with his own lover and also one President – not really a hard task considering what he has done so far, but not that easy when his situation is given attention. But the fact remains that he is still the Iron Man, which he does say with confidence, and that is one thing which would guide him with chaos and misery all around. It is his success that should keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe going, and it is left for us to see.

300: Rise of an Empire is still the comic book movie which I want to watch this year more than anything else, but I would say that love is beyond comics and more into a dream of the past and a nightmare of history. The movie might not even reach here. My expectations about Man of Steel and The Wolverine won’t be as high as what I have for this one either. So it is worth talking about this one as the much awaited superhero comics movie of the year. If asked about the movie being living upto the expectations, it certainly did. While talking more about the expectations, wasn’t that more about pure fun than anything else? In that case, the movie has incredible success. I am not that much of a fan of the movie’s 3D, and would have found it good enough to have seen it in 2D at a lower price and without the trouble of having to wear the glasses. But as long as the special effects are concerned, they are well done and all those action sequences with the support of these effects, create a world of enjoyable chaos and destruction which are of no pain. The movie is made into a pure entertainer and a master of its genre, gaining in strength from its own pace and still getting faster from its strength that is sticking to what it has been doing through the previous titles – to entertain and not to take logic for dinner and make her talk.

Robert Downey Jr is the Iron Man once again, and there is no point where he isn’t the man in the armour, no matter how much he walks around without it. I would consider him more as Sherlock Holmes rather than Iron Man, but in this movie, he is more of iron, and his character has undergone more changes which makes him more of that superhero not just to the crowd, but also to his own people. The story of the man in the armour moves so, and so does the movie, and to expect some other person in this role is absurdity, for there is no question about it yet again. Gwyneth Paltrow’s role has been extended in this one, not just by the screen presence which is not an improvement – for it is more of the essence as well as the power and influence. She gets that much power by the end of the movie, and this strength which is more hulk-like than anything else is more funny than being significant enough to be carried on. The damzel in distress gets powerful – not forever and not in the way she wanted to be and it is surely not a thing to be kept in the urn and driven towards eternity by the horsemen of the other world. The character has become more and more of her, and the lady of the superhero has lived upto the title, as the woman of iron who burns – being hot was applicable to many women in the movie, but for her, it also becomes literal.

Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian is too effective as a villain that it is very easy to hate the character. One gets to remember Sebastian Shaw of X-Men: First Class – there was Kevin Bacon, and both the characters being involved in genetic mutation and the use of science and technology as evil, with a never ending desire to rule the world and keep things running in their own way – they deserve to be partners in crime, but I don’t see the X-Men being brought to the Avengers initiative and the Shaw character was already finished by the end of the last X-Men movie. Here, Killian is a “created” monster – an indirect creation, unlike Shaw who created monsters out of good men. Our monster here is not only the monster, but also the creator who creates more out of what he has become. He is able to channelize his anger and desperation in the right path, that is incredibly wrong and evil. What his wrath does is to redo the wrong and the wicked in such a way that it becomes so common. If he was shown with conscience or some kind of emotional attachment, that would have been his failure. But there is nothing of that sort, and the success in villainy is attained. There is the presence of science, technology, energy, destruction, and all which would suit an evil genius of his type – thats all he needs and thats what he gets.

Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen, is another character and a bit of the monster’s little helper, and despite of the presence of the so called “hotness”, the best looking lady around – talking about in a subjective manner. She is with the monster, but still not monster enough. Stephanie Szostak looks so scary and attractive as the assassin which makes an incredible contradiction out of nowhere. The literal “hot” version can be applied to her too, as she bruns quite a lot as the result of that experiment. Ben Kingsley creates a powerful effect on the movie, which was good to see. Don Cheadle continues to be the “other man of iron” as expected, with no trouble. With all these, the movie is undoubtedly a huge grosser even in this part of the world. There is a good amount of difficulty in getting the tickets and if asked why it is so popular, the reasons are so many. I had to witness too many trailers before the movie to get into it, and the crowd was huge and getting into the theatre took some time with all the traffic and related stuff, but it was worth that. My advice on it would be to drink some tea and get some tickets. Any other advice would be so much beyond the armour of iron, and the best of armour comes from the elixir of life that is tea.

Release date: 26th April 2013
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.