Central Intelligence

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Vampire Owl: So, are we looking for what the Rock is cooking?

Vampire Bat: No, we are not. We will just watch the movie and come back to the castle.

Vampire Owl: But I am hungry. As hungry as a werewolf on an indefinite hunger strike during a full moon night.

Vampire Bat: When he say so, it doesn’t really mean that.

Vampire Owl: So, he doesn’t cook?

Vampire Bat: Whether he cooks or not, we are not going to have that.

Vampire Owl: So, it is not available with the movie. You mean to say that there is no offer.

Vampire Bat: No, it is not. We have to buy our own food with money from our pockets.

Vampire Owl: And unfortunately, we have a cashless vampire economy.

Vampire Bat: But we have the food here.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with tapioca chips].

What is the movie about? :: At a big event, the school’s most popular student and star athlete Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is being honored by the students and teachers. At the same time, a bully, Trevor Olson (Jason Bateman) and his arrogant friends grab the overweight student Robbie Wierdicht (Dwayne Johnson) from the gym shower and throw him into the centre of the event to humiliate him. With only Calvin and his girlfriend, Maggie Johnson (Danielle Nicolet) showing some sympathy to him, Robbie disappears from the school never to be heard about again for a long time. Many years later, Calvin is married to Robbie and is working as a forensic accountant. With both of them working, and spending almost no good time together, they feel that their marriage is in trouble, and Calvin is also disappointed with his work itself, finding it dull and boring.

So, what happens next? :: While spending his boring time at work and being highly displeased that people who are not that good as him are getting promotions and raise, Calvin receives a friend request on Facebook from a man named Bob Stone – even if he can’t figure out who this man is, he just accepts the request. The man on the other side reveals that he is the old schoolmate Robbie who had disappeared long ago, and asks for a meeting. As they meet, the two are surprised to see that the situation has gone upside down with the man who was supposed to be a big success is caught in a job he doesn’t like, and the one who was humiliated and considered to be good for nothing is now a muscular man with a lot of confidence and happiness – plus he is more than that. Calvin will know more about it when a group of CIA agents led by Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan) arrive at his house – it is the time to save the world, can it be done?

The defence of Central Intelligence :: There is fun guaranteed with Central Intelligence as the two of the leading actors and situations continue to bring the laughter to us, and the action is also stylish from The Rock. There is one thing that we can be thankful about more than anything else, and it is that this one doesn’t go on to be like that terrible, third-rate movie called Kingsman: Secret Service which was the worst comedy movie which we had the chance to watch in such a long time – so many people have pretended to like it just because critics have felt something in the vulgar and violent presence in the movie, but nobody here is falling for that. Here in this movie, we have the fun that we can relate to, and with The Rock punching not just through the walls, but also through our need for comedy, there is the strength of Central Intelligence that gets magnified with its cast. It is the same reason why the movie holds things together even when it is going through a lazy path in between.

The claws of flaw :: One has to feel that with more situations added, Central Intelligence could have been a lot more fun, and might have even become the funniest movie in a long time. The plot also doesn’t hold on strong enough, with a climax that doesn’t go on to create that much of big effect with its twists or the comedy – the big twist could have been done better, but this one refuses to do the same. We do feel this idea is done too many times before, and this one needed the special ingredient within. There are jokes that are rather repetitive, and some of them are not really funny for the common man or the thoughtful ones – the presence of such jokes could have been avoided to fill up with those more quality ones. We remember the movie The Rundown which was also called Welcome to the Jungle – with The Rock himself teaming up with Seann William Scott, that was actually more fun.

Performers of the soul :: The Rock stays at the centre of this one too, bringing all fun right to us – Dwayne Johnson plays this role bringing so much entertainment to us. Always the entertainer, whether it is the WWE where he is one of my all-time favourite wrestlers with the Undertaker and Triple H, or even in the movies like Hercules or the Fast and Furious series, there is no exception on his part here. He scores not just with the comedy, but also with those action sequences. Kevin Hart becomes the right partner for him with all the fun around. Their combination is so much fun that, they provide almost everything that this movie needs – it is only until the two meet that you have to wait, and everything begins right there, as you would expect. Aaron Paul who is a lot remembered for Need For Speed, once again has a nice role to do which seemed to be so simple for him. Amy Ryan nicely fits in as the agent too.

How it finishes :: Along with the entertainment, there is a strong message against bullying in Central Intelligence. It shows how someone who was bullied and considered to be among the worst students in all ways, having the least chance to succeed, get to be the person that nobody expected him to be. The same works the other way too, with the big success story of schools and colleges being not meeting the expectations. Well, you gain nothing by underestimating or overestimating people, as none of them are the same. One day or the other, each of us have to face the world in our own ways, and with what we want being different in each case, the judgment that people pass on us won’t be the right one. Everyone is different, and all of us have our own success stories. It is up-to the so called society to accept us as what we are.

Release date: 17th June 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Dilan Boyack, Timothy John Smith, Megan Park, Ryan Hansen, Thomas Kretschmann, Phil Reeves, Kumail Nanjiani, Slaine, Melissa McCarthy (cameo)

centralintelligence

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Exodus

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Vampire Owl :: No, I have suffered too much with that earlier movie called Noah. No more!

Vampire Bat :: But, I would say that Noah has set such a terrible standard that it will be almost impossible for any other Biblical movie to come under it.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt that. The worst movie in any category is yet to come. There is always disaster in waiting. It is like a werewolf waiting for a full-moon when getting the release date.

Vampire Bat :: I see that your negativity about movies is increasing like your zombie minions’ doubts about your inability to owlify the world.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t understand why you doubt about categorizing Noah as the worst movie of the year. Along with bringing an aversion to Darren Aronofsky, I don’t see any other movie which put Christians, Athiests, Hindus and Muslims in the theatre to sleep with no discrimination. It has done India some favour with reflecting the unity in diversity, but in the end, it is just boredom for everyone, even for the categories with reservation.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, I did see the reaction in the theatre, but as you said, the worst movie list is still open.

Vampire Owl :: I think that you should close the yearly list right now. Now we know what movies to watch each weekend, and I don’t see any other movie coming close to as ridiculous as Noah.

Vampire Bat :: But we are not sure about it yet. There are some differing opinions…

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Exodus anymore. I am going to some place peaceful; like a cemetery, I guess.

Vampire Bat :: I think that it is a pretty good idea.

[Starts the car].

What is it about? :: Ancient Egypt had grown vast and wide beyond the banks of the river Nile, and was going through its best times, but mostly based on the blood and sweat of its Hebrew slaves. As much as the great Egyptian Empire spreads and developed, so much more pressure came on its slaves who continue to suffer more. Under the rule of the Pharaoh Seti I, the empire continues to thrive. There seems to be glorious days which goes on and on. Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) grow up like brothers in the palace even as it is certain the latter shall go on to become the Pharaoh. It is like they do have each other’s back until that realization come upon them one day. The truth that was hidden for long will come to light, and being considered a Hebrew spy won’t do Moses much good. He would soon be banished from his world, but that wouldn’t be the end of him, as God has plans for him and his people as he will liberate them from the yoke of slavery and lead them to the promised land. But what does the Pharaoh say about this?

The defence of Exodus: Gods and Kings :: It is our duty to support the big epic stories on the screen, and in that case, we have an automatic self-defence here. We need our faith, the beliefs of the past to keep us going, and I am sure that Exodus: Gods and Kings will only be a positive factor in the same unlike Noah which came up with so much negativity about the same. This is also a visually stunning movie, unlike any Biblical movie that has come so far, and the splendour and awesomeness of the Ancient Egypt is shown with full strength like never before. The cities, the statues and monuments, the troops, the Pyramids and the location near the Nile – they are all breath-taking. There is a good amount of detail put into all of that. The plagues are also nicely shown on the screen with the visual effectiveness, especially the river of blood and the thunderstorms. The cast also works nicely. There is an effort taken to add some imagination and more realism too, even as not all of it have worked. Still a spectacle is guaranteed on the screen, and God is clearly shown to be on the side of the poor and the powerless.

Claws of flaw :: The inaccuracies are there; yes, there are too many liberties being taken, especially with the portrayal of God (somehow reminding me of Waiting for Godot) and the way in which the plagues appear, rather like intending to connect them in one way or the other to various other factors. There are many moments which got the differences seeming easy to detect here, and the certainty is there about criticizing the same – but nothing really in a bad way (Noah had brought new “bad” or the “terrible”). I won’t list them here as I would continue this one as more secular than religious in nature. I am not an Old Testament expert anyway. The biggest problem after the God depiction is the Red Sea scene which had a lot more scope as a direct miracle with the special effects. The characterization is also incomplete; there is no real effort put into concentrating on Moses as a person, and that affects most of the other characters too – but they are not strangers to the audience, are they? The ending is also not where it should have stopped. The ending was to be after the sea-scene, and this one goes on to stop in the middle of nowhere. There was no point in rushing through things here either.

Performers of the soul :: You know that this is supposed to be depending heavily on Christian Bale who has to keep it going, and it does. He doesn’t fail to deliver yet again, and even when the characterization seems to bring things down, he continues to strengthen things. A special mention is needed for María Valverde who looked lovely and too good for her character, even though having a comparatively minor role which she did to perfection and remains memorable. Joel Edgerton does a commendable job the pharaoh, and he has his moments as much as the protagonist has, plus when they are together, there is even more power on the screen. Sigourney Weaver is limited here in another small role. The rest of the actors playing Hebrew characters pale in comparison to the power of Christian Bale’s Moses, even as Ben Kingsley does seem to have the opportunity to be the next most noticed person there, and Aaron Paul comes after that. But this movie is more Moses’ movie than Noah belongs to its titular character, and so we can understand the limitations of the rest of the cast, except for the antagonist.

How it finishes :: Coming from the disappointment of watching Noah, I wondered about the possibility of this being a good one, but I had more expectations about this movie. Noah had hit the bottom of the movie ocean with its terrible attempts to make something ridiculous out of the void of nonsense created by itself. Despite this movie being better, I do wonder why this couldn’t have been even better, coming from a director like Ridley Scott whose Prometheus had me incredibly interested like Alien and there is no need to talk about Gladiator which is there in almost every poster of this movie with the lines “from the director of Gladiator” becoming its biggest promotion. There was going to be believers and non-believers coming to watch this movie, and it had to use its epic elements to better use to make sure that both were nicely satisfied, and this one just makes the touch instead of grabbing and using its available elements. One has to admit that it is still with enough strength to survive though, and when it gets weak, we remember the pathetic and boring experience which was Noah, and we get happier. This time, the one whom I ask to accompany me won’t feel the need to shoot me on the head.

A look into the status :: Exodus: Gods and Kings releases in India a week before it does in the United States – well, you know that it is usually the other way around; with rare exceptions like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You know about the recent ones The Equalizer and John Wick coming late here too. Now that is a twist of events, and it is a good thing as it won’t collide with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies next week, followed by Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and then Into the Woods on the Christmas weekend, even as I am doubtful about the last movie’s fate here. Now you know the schedule for every weekend of December – these are the four movies which we have this month, and with one gone, there are three more to go, among which I hope that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will go on to become the second highest grosser of the year if not the first, as far as it doesn’t go The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 way and doesn’t make that much of an impact. For now, Exodus: Gods and Kings has fertile grounds in the theatre, with not much of a challenge, and hope it makes good use of this advantage.

Release date: 5th December 2014 (India); 12th December 2014 (USA)
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, María Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, Indira Varma, John Turturro, Hiam Abbass, Kevork Malikyan, Anton Alexander, Golshifteh Farahani, Tara Fitzgerald, Ben Mendelsohn, Dar Salim

exodus

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Need for Speed

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* “Too much gaming details warning” for the first three paragraphs 😛

Games of the soul :: How much value does a movie based on video game have in this world? If we look at movies like Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, that should be zero both for the critics and the box-office, a fate which it never deserved – unlike DOA: Dead or Alive which was expected to have such fate. Then there are the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series which grosses a lot more than the critics see in them. Well, they don’t like my personal video game favourite Hitman, neither do they come close to being interested in Max Payne or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which were actually much better than what we are made to believe about them. If a movie based on a video game is somewhat like that game, can we blame the makers? Isn’t it how the movie is supposed to be? I am looking forward to the upcoming movies based on Mass Effect, Deus Ex, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed. There is going to be a lot more to explore in them, especially the first one I mentioned. I have a feeling that it is that movie which will change the opinion about video game based movies.

NFS reloaded :: My first love for NFS series began with Need for Speed II SE which I came across at a time when I was actually playing more Road Rash than ever. I loved the game and decided not to retreat to the earlier version. I didn’t like Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit any better even as I spent quite a long time in it. Then came Need for Speed: High Stakes which I chose to hate, which made me take a small leap into Midtown Madness but that stayed only for a short time. Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed brought me back though. Then Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 made me realize that I was trailing in graphics card, and I had trouble with the speed of the game. After upgrading my system, I went directly into Need for Speed: Underground which remained my favourite until Need for Speed: Underground 2 made the whole thing awesome, with Brooke Burke around. From that moment, NFS remained my favourite racing game genre, and the stage was set for the greatest racing game I have ever played; Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I loved almost everything about it, and loved being chased by cops towards the beautiful sunset, except the fact that Josie Maran was no Brooke Burke.

The desire for speed :: Need for Speed: Most Wanted had set such a high level of racing game experience which was nearly impossible to overtake. It was one of the most interesting racing challenges ever, and it was that kind of a mission that you always wished to go for, or even more than was in our minds. The next game, Need for Speed: Carbon couldn’t match its predecessor in anything, and I decided to uninstall it soon enough. Need for Speed: ProStreet also came up with nothing special for me. Need for Speed: Undercover was last NFS game I ever played, and that was the end of my NFS life. Due to its alleged similarities with ProStreet, I decided against checking Need for Speed: Shift, and Need for Speed: Nitro was not made for PC which kept it completely out of the equation. Then there was the 2010 version of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed, Need for Speed: The Run, Need for Speed: World and Need for Speed: Rivals, not to forget the 2012 version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. But I had got rid of my graphics card by then, and the only games left with me now are the older non-racing ones.

What is it about? :: Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a street racer and a mechanic who struggles for money. He is interested in Anita Coleman (Dakota Johnson), but due to his financial condition, that is rather impossible for him as she becomes more and more of a former lover. Still, he is having a pretty good time with his friends, enjoying the little things of happiness. But as one of his friends and Anita’s brother Pete Coleman (Harrison Gilbertson) get killed in an illegal race event involving the three, and the third person disappears without evidence, he is sent to the prison. With the help of Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) and a number of his friends who worked with him in the garage, he decides to take on Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), the man responsible for the death of his friend. But as Dino has announced a bounty on stopping him, and also with so many cops on his tail, the question remains if he can make it to the big race where he intends to defeat, humiliate and expose the lies of his enemy. Even as this one is indeed a big race, it doesn’t remain just another race, as it is personal.

The defence of Need for Speed :: It is nice that they decided against using computer-generated imagery. Aaron Paul is good as the protagonist and he remains solid in his character, but the more impressive one is the charming lady who accompanies him, Imogen Poots who has the best moments of the movie with her, as she seems to bring such beauty and energy into the sequences which is rarely seen, and not to forget the fun – the best lines are there when she is there, and the same is the case of the incidents. One has wonder if she actually stole them with an irresistible charm! I haven’t seen a more lovable performance from any female character in any racing movie before. The cars remains awesome, especially the Ford Mustang which we have all driven in the game. Each actor who plays any of the hero’s friends make sure that none of them lags behind. The villain is without surprises, but manages to be a typical villain of a movie like this. The nostalgia that this movie brings is priceless. As we know which kind of audience will go for this movie, what more can they ask for?

The Claws of flaw :: The one big problem with the movie is that this could have been anything else – a random racing movie rather than being that NFS movie which the fans have been waiting for. There is no real speed in the progress of the movie, especially in the first fourty five minutes or so. It is so slow that one comes to the early conclusion that this is neither fast or furious, and nothing can match Fast & Furious franchise. We can’t deny that after watching this movie. There is almost nothing about it that can make it different from the usual racing movies of the past, and there is no imagination as the game franchise had. The plot is ordinary, concerning the revenge of a former street driver who is sent to jail for the wrong reasons against the man who is responsible for the same. There is not enough car races either. Nobody is going to enjoy this one more than the wonderful games in the super-hit franchise. One might often wonder if this was made due to the need for a movie based on this video game rather than based on the need for some speed. Yes, this movie needs more speed and a better imagination in story.

How it finishes :: Now I only play three games, Age of Empires II: The Conquerers, Age of Wonders III: Shadow Magic and Unreal Tournament, that too once in a blue moon. But Need for Speed is that game which refuses to go out of memory, especially the flare of awesomeness which was Need for Speed: Most Wanted. It was never really just a game for most of us, as it was a wonderful racing life supported by another world which was inside the game. Yes, there were many others which were to become my favourites later, including the big three action-graphics extravaganza; Mass Effect, Oblivion and Prototype, but NFS always belong to a different world, and its strength has been its supporters, as there have been almost no gamer that I have known that have failed to play at least one NFS game with some interest. There is always the Prince of Persia, Hitman, Age of Empires, Unreal Tournamet, Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Resident Evil and such franchises which become the all-time favourites of some people, and then there is Need for Speed which is liked by all who likes the others too. Lets hope the same about this movie.

Release date: 21st March 2014 (India); 14th March 2014 (US)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Scott Waugh
Starring: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Dominic Cooper, Dakota Johnson, Ramón Rodríguez, Michael Keaton, Rami Malek, Michael Keaton, Harrison Gilbertson, Stevie Ray Dallimore

need4speed copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.