John Wick

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Vampire Owl :: May be we should watch Beauty and the Beast instead of this.

Vampire Bat :: Now why should you think so after getting the tickets?

Vampire Owl :: Because you can find more than one John everywhere, but a beauty is so rare to find.

Vampire Bat :: You are beauty-blind. You never appreciate any kind of beauty. Do you know that?

Vampire Owl :: That is not true. I find beauty even in a mortuary.

Vampire Bat :: It is exactly what I am talking about. And this is why you will find more beauty or the strange image of beauty in an action movie like John Wick.

Vampire Owl :: What about Jessabelle? I have heard that she is a beauty.

Vampire Bat :: It has been panned by critics, and might not release here soon. The same is the case of Horns.

Vampire Owl :: See, they don’t release the right movie here. You should arrange a mutiny while I am planning to owlify the world.

Vampire Bat :: Still doing better than the censor board.

[Goes into the theatre].

What is it about? :: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is spending his life in sadness and depression after the death of his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan) due to cancer. But he receives a puppy which his wife had left for him and decides to love it a lot. One day, a group of gang members ask him to name a price for his car in which they are interested. But John refuses and leaves them very angry. But at night, lead by Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), they get into his home, beat him up, kills his dog and steals the car. Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), the leader of the gang and the father of Iosef scolds him and tells him who John actually is. He was his best assassin, who was nicknamed the boogeyman, and this ruthless killer will come to get the one who attacked him, and there is no force that can stop him. He tries to talk to John, which fails, and therefore places a bounty on him – the two major assassins who seem to take the offer seriously are Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and Miss Perkins (Adrianne Palicki). But John Wick has already started his mission – he has been in the best in the business.

The defence of John Wick :: The world of John Wick is nicely created, and it is a nice and gory one full of action and violence which stands apart. It gives a special feeling as we are guided through that strange and lawless world with its own chaos as the right thing to do. It is stylish work, and its style doesn’t go too much and make it complicated – it is simple and nice, with some melee combat and lots of gunshots, never really trying anything spectacular. We do need a good action movie with a lot of action which doesn’t get overdone with flying bodies, people doing insance stunts and all, and here is it. For those who need a bloody revenge story, here it is. It might be the time to imagine all those who were bad to you this week getting shot – yes, it is a lot like a video game and the one that first comes to mind is Max Payne. There is that kind of a feeling going on, and there is even the shot of a man playing a first person shooter getting shot, all of a sudden. Shoot, shoot and save the movie – I would say that it is the motto of John Wick.

Claws of flaw :: There is drag, and there is absolutely no doubt about it. The slowness of the movie is rather awkward and there are also some uninteresting parts of the action sequences which are uncalled for. The movie does seem to offer a lot in the beginning, but that much is not provided – John Wick is this, John Wick is that, but he is not that smart as it turns out to be, but sometimes goes on like a kind of Chuck Norris, getting rid of people who are in his way. But in melee combat, he gets beaten up a lot, and one has to wonder why he was considered that scary. It is all because of his dog getting killed, and that is also strange considering how much of a murderer the protagonist has been. Then there is the ending, and the final scenes as well as the fights are not the better things in the movie, even as they could have been – and that is a let down. We think that it has ended, and it has not, and then there is the hope for another ending, and finally it ends, it is predictable, keeping us looking on our watches – there are boring moments, and the movie is a little too long.

Performers of the soul :: Here is a movie of Keanu Reeves which is all about him as the name itself suggests. He is once again at his best, and in action, he seems supreme. He has blended into this avatar so nicely that this might be his best performance for some time. There is still nothing like seeing him in The Matrix, Constantine and Speed though – sorry, couldn’t live without mentioning them here. Michael Nyqvist is fantastic as the gang lord. The movie does leave one hoping that Adrianne Palicki had more to do – the only thing she does here is to try to kill John Wick, but she is supposed to be a smart lady assassin, and should do more, and could have controlled a lot more in the movie, and her end is also too cold. I thought she was very good in G.I. Joe: Retaliation as Lady Jaye, and here she has a blunt character, but I liked the way she dealt with it. The same is the case of Willem Dafoe who was needed more – there could have been more with him and that sniper rifle. Lance Reddick is nice indeed in his scenes. Ian McShane also leaves a nice mark. I do wish Bridget Moynahan was out of John Wick’s mobile screen for a little more time.

Soul exploration :: This is a story of revenge, and how it goes in a violent manner – there is no chance for regret in this world of chaos and annihilation. There is the assertion of the truth that one’s past can’t be asked to go away, especially if it is violent in nature. There can be many things that a man can be, but being not influenced at least indirectly by his past is rather not possible – the grave where you hide these tend to come back as zombies, and John Wick is no exception for the same. The Malayalam word for “past” is “bhootham” which means ghost, and it keeps haunting us, thus making that name a worthy one. John’s attempt to escape from his past doesn’t prove to be good for his present, and keeps his future uncertain. Yes, worrying about the past is useless, but not when it is a terrible one, and you do have something left in you to take your mind and body back to it – that means that you have not changed. Unless you have not let go in a way in which there is no return, there is no escape, because ghosts will successfully feed on them some day. There are not many twisted things in this movie, as the plot is direct – find, kill, have your revenge, leave in one piece if possible.

How it finishes :: This weekend’s challengers for John Wick are from Nightcrawler and Beauty and the Beast. The remains from the past include Gone Girl which is still going strong, along with Interstellar, Big Hero 6 and Fury which should be of no challenge for this one. Among this week’s releases too, this one should have the advantage, with Keanu Reeves being back at what he has been doing the best and can accomplish with that certain amount of awesomeness – there will be a lot of Matrix fans who have been hoping for the same. It is also the only hundred percent action movie among all the releases. The releases in other languages also has none that belongs to full action. Lets hope that John Wick will bring a change in the action genre as it hasn’t been doing that well as the situation used to be, unless being mixed with science fiction or some random adventure into the unknown or fantasy. Do give John Wick a chance if you are a strong action fan, otherwise may be you can doubt.

Release date: 14th November 2014 (India); 24th October 2014 (USA)
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe, Lance Reddick, Daniel Bernhardt, Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore, Bridget Regan, Keith Jardine, Thomas Sadoski, David Patrick Kelly, Clarke Peters, Kevin Nash, Randall Duk Kim, Scott Tixier

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

G.I. Joe II

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There are only a few things which bring people back to their childhood on a magic carpet made of collective unconciousness and the dreams one carry over to adulthood on the clouds of absolute wonder. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was in no way a failure in doing the same, but with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it has come closer to being one of those few things. The first one had all the uninteresting characters who tried to be smart, with the exception of Storm Shadow and The Baroness. The second one would surely be more interesting even as the total improvement is just too slight to be considered improved. There is nothing extraordinary in the movie, but the way in which they have treated the ordinary is significant. Here, one can see the power of the old G.I. Joe toys which forms the essence to every kid who has grown up now, living their childhood through these toys. This is the hidden strength of powerful memories which lie beneath the movie and seeks to be called upon from the abyss. From the seemingly ordinary world of the grown ups, this one takes the life of the adult back to the past and then back to the future with its power of the “toy” characterization which is more of a powerful raising of the toylines.

It would not be a big surprise for many fans if it is said that The Rock/Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock runs the show around here. The Rock has always been coming back with power. With him, is the hero of the movie Die Hard, which makes this movie caught between a rock and hard place – that place which is hard enough to die. The role of Bruce Willis is smaller, but still very important and effective in the movie. He still gets to hold many guns and shoot enough people to make an impact. Meanwhile, The Rock is the leader, after the death of Duke (Channing Tatum) – that moment of dead Joes which calls for retaliation over the retaliation of the Cobras over the Joes. The Rock remains the WWE Champion and here also he reigns in what he does the best. He is the new addition to the list and he has done so much to his character which makes Roadblock the undisputed leader and the champion of all the Joes of this movie. His character has made his intentions clear right from the beginning, and remains the nearly unstoppable character till the end, still not deprived of the chance to be beaten up and almost getting killed; without that there would have been no fun inside him. He is also the one who gets to have the final touch in saving the world from total disaster and a Cobra commander with that wonderful destruction plan.

Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow should come next, and not Snake Eyes or Flint. He is that character without whom nothing is possible; there would be an eternal void in the lives of both sides also himself – on this occasion, that absence would cause more disaster to the Joes rather than the Cobras. He was undoubtedly pure evil in the first movie, something which I would have questioned without even a single proof. The question of good and evil is twisted in this sequel, and the roles would become more complicated with a few revelations. He is still not a person to be the right part of the Cobras nor the integral part of the Joes. His truth lies somewhere in between, which is not that comprehensible to both sides. For this time, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) figure it out more than the rest as they are all driven by the same motive, the quest for revenge and the need for finishing off what they started. The battle between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow which looked good enough to continue until eternity would come to an end here, not with one of them dead, and surely not with both dead. Still, the revenge belongs to Storm Shadow, my favourite right from the childhood, and that is something I would be glad to remember.

Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye, has more to do other than being the love interest of Flint and being the attractive one whose beauty supports the missions in a less significant manner. She is the tough person, the shooter who shoots – well, what else should the shooter do is a question pretty relevant, but she is the accurate one around here; and may be even tougher than most of the Joes out there. She finds out that someone is impersonating the President and also uses her beauty and charms for moving themselves closer towards the ultimate destination – in that casem she scores on two occasions. Still, she is no femme fatale. Yet, her speciality is mentioned as Covert Operations in the toy series. The way in which this character has eclipsed the weaker Scarlett from the previous movie is a powerful sign of what to be expected of a possible sequel. For now, there is no suitable replacement for this one.

Flint is more or less Duke himself, or may be the new Duke with a new girl friend who is taller and stronger. It was actually not possible to see the difference in the beginning. Snake Eyes remains the same, faceless and not that interesting a character, even as there is always a certain amount of hype surrounding him. The addition of Jinx to his team might have given the character of Snake Eyes, a chance to be a little more interesting, but not too much. Jinx is never a weak character, but pales in comparison to Lady Jaye, but both are of a better status than Scarlett of the first movie. Ray Stevenson as Firefly makes that powerful impact right from his entrance though, on that bike of destruction which would make the Ghost Rider proud. It should be the most stylish moment of the movie, as long as some shots of The Rock and Adrianne Palicki can be considered a little short and not of style, but of brutality and beauty respectively. He continues to be the one perfect villain any hero wishes to fight, until he gets to face Roadblock for a second time. Still, could have had more character development.

The story continues where the first movie had finished, even as there is no mention of a number of characters from that one – Zartan has impersonated the American President and the G.I. Joes are framed for stealing warheads from Pakistan and are almost exterminated, before Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye manages to survive and make their way back to the United States from their mission in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Storm Shadow and Firefly rescue the Cobra Commander from the maximum security prison. Snake Eyes and Jinx successfully capture Storm Shadow while recovering from his injuries so that he can answer for the murder of his uncle. But Storm Shadow reveals that Zartan is the murderer and he was only a victim of the situation. The three join forces with the Joes in a final attempt to stop Zartan from his attempt on total domination with the help of the Cobra Commander. He invites the world leaders to a summit where he forces them to submit to him by destroying London and threatening to cause further destruction. Once again, it is upto the same people to save the day, and this time, it is going to be a little more fun.

G.I. Joe is many things at once, other than being a movie and also close enough to being a video game – and the most powerful of them all is nostalgia. I had my first contact with the G.I. Joe action figures when I was in the Primary School, and that was the reign of Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander and a few others whom I might fail to name now, but will still remain the earliest of the best choices. This movie has provided a return, and with its superior action sequences and okay 3D scenes, there is a peek into the past which not only brings back the action figures, but also the world that I missed. It is a well-made time machine which can make its way to the past if directed in the right way. It is something which generates more subjectivity in a grown up kid than most of the other things. The more significant question might be if it takes anything back to that world along with bringing something into the present – these questions make G.I. Joe immortal in the mortality, and closer to the adult world of total uncertainty.

Release date: 28th March 2013 (USA); 29th March 2013 (India)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, Lee Byung-hun, D.J. Cotrona, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Arnold Vosloo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.