Mortal Kombat

Vampire Owl: Do you remember us watching Mortal Kombat on VCR a long time ago?

Vampire Bat: Yes, a long time ago for humans, just a little bit earlier for us.

Vampire Owl: Yes, immortality has an effect on the perception of time.

Vampire Bat: Yet, those were the days when humans had tapes instead of CDs.

Vampire Owl: Mortal Kombat had also inspired many grand stage fights between vampires and werewolves.

Vampire Bat: Yes, thanks to our special powers, we won most of them against brutal strength.

Vampire Owl: Our battles were more or less immortal combats though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, immortality makes sure that death is near impossible.

Vampire Owl: Actually, having such tournaments are good options in our realms too.

Vampire Bat: Well, tournaments no longer have value among elders.

[Gets a red velvet cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: In Japan during the seventeenth century, a group of assassins ruthlessly attack a family, and their leader Bi-Han (Joe Taslim) murders everyone except for their child, who is taken by the God of Thunder Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) to safety. Back to the present, the terrifying realm of Outworld has defeated Earthrealm in nine out of ten competitions of Mortal Kombat, and with one more victory, they could claim and rule Earth. The Outworld has never felt that they have come so close to gaining the ultimate victory. But, an ancient prophecy says otherwise, asserting that the blood of the family which fell centuries earlier could unite a new group of warriors who can defeat the fighters of Outworld. Aware of this, Shang Tsung (Chin Han) sends his warriors to make sure that there are no warriors left to fight them, and Bi-Han who is now known as Sub-Zero is assigned the job to find certain people who have a certain mark to identify them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The identification mark happens to be a dragon tattoo which has been on these people for a long time. A former professional MMA fighter called Cole Young (Lewis Tan) has such a mark, and a person named Jax (Mehcad Brooks) meets him and his family who are attached by Sub-Zero. Jax fights valiantly, but losses his arms to Sub-Zero’s cold, and is considered dead by the Outworld. Another person who is on the hunt is Mileena (Sisi Stringer) who wants Earth to be captured at any cost. Outworld is ready to break all the rules to make sure that they win this last battle. Cole searches for a woman named Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) to whom Jax had pointed much earlier, and upon discovering her, he learns about something sinister which has been going on in the background. She talks about Mortal Kombat, which might be a reality soon, and assures him that they have been chosen to fight for Earth against some unknown species from another world. But that might not be all.

The defence of Mortal Kombat :: This film is nothing less than a return to nostalgia, not just as the adaptation of a game which we have been playing so much from the early days of Windows, as it also contributes as the reminder of that movie which came to the cassette shops, and had us cheering for each action move on display. Well, this film is not that much far away from what we had seen then, as far as action sequences are concerned – we also have the superior computer graphics and with the better cameras, we have some visual grandeur on the screen as expected; a case of higher quality return of childhood as we look at it. The locations are nicely shaped using the special effects. The final battle with Scorpion and Sub-Zero around brings some quality final moments. We can consider this as a beginning, and hope to see more of the fights, with some real tournaments happening in different worlds. The origins of the new age adaptation has been set well, and with one fine sequel, the level of the whole thing could be raised.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about that fact that Mortal Kombat could have been better, especially with so many of options being available. There are so many characters in the game who could have been taken into this film, but only a few were used. Some of the very interesting characters are also killed too early. The individual battles could have actually lasted much more, and some special and unexpected moves could have been added around here. A little bit more of attention could be taken in the clothes of the characters too, and they could have stayed close to how they were in the game. GI Joe had also experienced similar problems, but that franchise never really had this much of variety and worlds to be displayed on the screen with grandeur. It is a shame that some of the battles finish too easily, when we know that there are so much to be done with fighters keeping on battling each other without holding back. You could have always added some game elements according to the requirements.

Performers of the soul :: Lewis Tan as Cole Young leads the way well, even though Jessica McNamee playing Sonya Blade seems to be the real leader around here throughout the first half of the film, as she nicely suits the role so well. Bridgette Wilson would still be the perfect Sonya, as we are all fans of that older version and go on to miss Kitana and Johnny Cage characters for now. Mehcad Brooks as Jax is another determined character who keeps his moments, and Josh Lawson as Kano adds to the same from the other side. The best looks still goes to Mel Jarnson playing Nitara, even though she is there for only a short period of time. We would have loved to see more of her around here, as the winged creature is a thing of Gothic beauty rather than anything else. Sisi Stringer as Mileena brings a side of horror very well. Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero makes the right antagonist, and the ice-filled moments of action are joy to watch. Chin Han and Tadanobu Asano leaves us something to look out for with another possible movie based on the same video game series. Ludi Lin and Max Huang are good additions as the trained warriors too.

How it finishes :: Mortal Kombat does have some special place in our hearts, as it was one of those earlier games which we played and continued to enjoy for a long time. Among these games, it was Mortal Kombat 4 which had our best attention, as it had high graphics requirements, and we actually had to go somewhere else to play the game. The characters of Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Quan-Chi and Raiden were among the favourites then, and it was only later that characters like Mileena were of interest. Among the games, this one does have a legendary status, even though just like the other game adaptations including Need for Speed, Hitman, Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Warcraft, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Doom, Blood Rayne, Max Payne, Assassin’s Creed and many others, this one also failed to gather much of critical appreciation. Yes, Resident Evil has grossed so much that nobody can question that particular franchise, but we know that adaptations require more.

Release date: 23rd April 2021 (USA), 11th September 2021 (Amazon)
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Simon McQuoid
Starring: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Tadanobu Asano, Mehcad Brooks, Ludi Lin, Chin Han, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent, Sisi Stringer, Mel Jarnson, Nathan Jones, Daniel Nelson, Angus Sampson, Damon Herriman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insidious III

Vampire Owl: Uncle Dracula was asking about this movie. The Vampire Oracle had told him that Count Dracula III will be only as good as Insidious III.

Vampire Bat: You can’t really expect anything to be as good as the original. There can be only be one original Dracula. It has been proven by characters in the works like Twilight.

Vampire Owl: Lets test the movie then and let him know.

[Gets the tickets].

This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com where I handle the Hollywood movie reviews division: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/885-insidious-chapter-3-movie-review.html

Even though The Conjuring has been considered as the most exciting horror movie of the recent times by the common audience, there has always been something about Insidious. The journey through the astral dimension and the demons of that world which they called The Further, has worked very well with the viewers. Insidious: Chapter 3 is actually not a sequel to the incidents of the previous chapter, as it does the job of being a prequel to the first movie. It goes a few years behind the Lambert haunting which was shown in the first movie. It is clear that it never intends to go that far back to become an origin story, but Insidious: Chapter 3 does come close to being one.

Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott), a teenage girl finds it difficult to cope with the loss of her mother. She has been trying to contact her dead mother Lillith (Ele Keats) and believes that her mother wants to communicate with her from the other world. When she contacts Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) with the same desire, the lady tries, but stops the procedure telling the girl that it is dangerous and she shouldn’t call out to any of the dead, as the other spirits will also be able to hear her. As days pass, Quinn sees a dark figure waving at her multiple times, and when she tries to check it when on road, she is hit by a car which leaves her on a wheel chair with fracture on both her legs.

The paranormal activities only increase as she sees visions, and a demon continues to cross over from the other world and torment her, most of the incidents leaving her on the floor with further injuries. A collar on the neck is just one of those extra additions that the demons give her as things continue to get worse. Despite her father keeping a close look at things, nothing positive comes out of it, and he is forced to seek help from those who deal with the supernatural. Elise is not confident enough to go back to the other dimension as she is afraid of being murdered by a demon who threatens her. Will she be able to face her fears and save the girl before the youngster’s soul is gone forever?

The scares in the movie are very much working through these incidents. The new demon is a very good addition to the creatures of the other world. It scares whenever there is an opportunity, and the creepiness of the movie continues to impress. The setting only helps with the same, as there is this nice little apartment which has an abandoned room above it. The world of spirits also continues to make the desired horror impact. Some of them include the demon’s first close appearance, the girl’s possession and the scene at the abandoned room – actually, there are many scenes which make the horror work, and it succeeds where Annabelle was confused.

The ending also leaves something more to desire for the fans, as a movie between this one and the first flick can be expected. People can still feel that this doesn’t bring enough innovation, but by staying close to the material, Insidious: Chapter 3 has managed fine. There is not much of blood and gore, but just the scares in the old style. Darkness has been nicely used as the movie’s best friend, and so are the doors, windows and walls. If you are not happy enough after watching it, you might have been expecting much more. There is no touching the level of The Conjuring, but this is surely the best horror movie which has had a wide release after that one.

Lin Shaye is once again plays the expert in all these spirit-related things, and she is the soul of this movie as she handles things with ease. Along with the three movies of the franchise, she was also there for Ouija, and this is a familiar territory for her. Stefanie Scott gives a high quality performance too, as she plays the teenager troubled by her mother’s death, the one with hope to provide wings for her ambitions and also the person tormented and possessed by the demon. She is impressive throughout the movie. Dermot Mulroney just got a simpler thing to do as the father. Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell brings the humour as Tucker and Specs.

As you have reached the third movie of the franchise, you can notice that the director has changed, and there is no more James Wan at the helm and the writer for the franchise, Leigh Whannell has taken over. But the movie hasn’t lost its best qualities, unlike X-Men, Species and Alien franchises which had their least interesting movies as the third entries. Instead, this movie improves from the second entry and becomes almost as good as the first film, and in a world of mostly lesser quality sequels, it is an achievement. There might be no huge innovation here, but if you want to be scared this weekend, Insidious: Chapter 3 is the right movie for you.

Release date: 26th June 2015 (India); 5th June 2015 (USA)
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Lin Shaye, Hayley Kiyoko, Michael Reid MacKay, Tate Berney, Tom Gallop, Phyllis Applegate, Ashton Moio, Ele Keats, Adrian, Tom Fitzpatrick, Phil Abrams, Ruben Garfias, Samantha Ramraj, James Wan, Amaris Davidson, Anna Ross, Joseph Bishara

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know that this director’s last movies were Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, the Vampire Penguin did inform us about the same.

Vampire Owl :: And we are going to watch this one.

Vampire Bat :: Ninety Nine percent at Rotten Tomatoes and nine out of ten at IMDb for an action movie – then why not watching it?

Vampire Owl :: Well, I have my doubts. They rate random violent action movies as awesome. Quentin Tarantino knows that for sure.

Vampire Bat :: Quentin Tarantino has nothing to do with this one. And the trailer was awesome. It called for a quick 3D watch!

Vampire Owl :: It could be also because we love Charlize Theron.

Vampire Bat :: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is also there, if you want another reason. Remember Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Vampire Owl :: Let’s go for this then.

Vampire Bat :: It is exactly what I am talking about. I also have to write my two hundredth review with this one.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: In a distant post-apocalyptic future where the resources are scarce and there is rarely the trace of civilization, Max (Tom Hardy) is captured and is imprisoned to be used as a blood bag for the sick boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult) in a part of the world which is ruled by a tyrant called Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Meanwhile, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who was sent by Joe to collect fuel drives away, and the tyrant realizes that she had also taken his five beautiful wives whom he had selected to bear his children without the deformities of the normal people around him. As Nux makes an attempt to make an impression with the captive attached as the blood bag, Max escapes, and joins forces with Furiosa and the wives Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), Capable (Riley Keough), Cheedo (Courtney Eaton), Toast (Zoë Kravitz), and Dag (Abbey Lee), as they hope to reach a location called “Green Place”.

The defence of Mad Max: Fury Road :: This one goes directly into the action, and we know what is expected here. We have something like the ultimate action movie which is so quick in its action and thinks not much about bringing up the rules. There are modified vehicles battling in the middle of nowhere – a lot like warships fighting on the sea, and here the four-wheeled monsters fight on the sea of sand. There are sandstorms instead of the storms in the sea, and there is a lot of work in the design of those vehicles, that is for sure. There are gunshots, melee combats, racing and people falling dead all the time. The pace is so good that you don’t wish to take your eyes off the screen. The dialogues also turn interesting soon enough. The background score is also impressive. There is also that display of humanity when it is left with no law and order, as we see the chaos which the lack of civilization brings to the humans. There is madness, and there is fury!

The claws of flaw :: Never does this movie venture too much without the action which seems to be imprinted throughout its run. There is the scope for more and more of story, but the focus remains on the action sequences which keep coming. This leaves the option to say that this is another mindless action movie – but that is still disputed, and depends on how you take it. The ending also doesn’t come up with that big surprise or climax, as the action just continues to lead to the end. There are things left unexplained about the situation, and there is not much smartness displayed by the characters in this movie as the actions are rather reckless. Yes, there is the need for willing suspension of disbelief, but it is easy in this case as the situation is of a post-apocalyptic future.

Performers of the soul :: The performances, especially from the leading cast remains the strength of this movie. The first name that needs attention here is Charlize Theron. This is not the kind of avatar in which you would expect to see her, but this is a role in which she excels. She plays the character who becomes the reason for this movie as well as all the action that we get to witness. She plays an amputee, but is still one of most powerful female action heroines of all time. Tom Hardy also makes it out strong as the titular character, and he surely has the best moments. You might not recognize Nicholas Hoult in the first look, but he steals a few moments nicely. The ladies play the wives well, and another person you need to look out for is the former WWE wrestler Nathan Jones who had teamed with the legendary Undertaker himself, as the strong Rictus.

Soul exploration :: The movie ventures in the post-apocalyptic future when the world has plunged into chaos. It comes up with that situation when almost all the resources have finished, and also when humanity finds chaos again in the absence of civilization. Without order, there will be only people fighting each other, and it is a possible state of the world in the future in the presence of its never-ending wars. As no surprise, the future will still have its weapons, even if the resources are to be so scarce. The final stages mean that someone will try to have them all without thinking about sharing. An experience close to the end of the world won’t make people any better, but will make them worse, trying to make “the survival of the fittest” happen in every case. Then there is the need for redemption as often spoken about by the main lady, and for the same, there is need for courage, sacrifice and revolution.

How it finishes :: Mad Max: Fury Road might not do that well at this part of the world as it is not the usual viewers’ choice action movie with the users’ choice kind of things. This is mostly action, but things remain too grim for the general audience who would surely prefer to see Avengers: Age of Ultron or Fast and Furious 7 instead of this one. But you need to watch this one in the theatre more than any other, as you seek chaos in the sands past the apocalypse – the world is so good that it might even make you satisfied only with the 3D. Mad Max: Fury Road becomes the movie of the week; not so sure about the box-office collections, but it is a certainty with the critics and action lovers. This is actually the fourth film in the director’s Mad Max franchise, and may be we should watch the others too – I haven’t done it yet. This brutality in brilliance gives an order!

And that was the 200th review! 😀

Release date: 15th May 2015
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: George Miller
Starring: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Abbey Lee, Riley Keough, Courtney Eaton, Nathan Jones, Megan Gale, Josh Helman, Melissa Jaffer, John Howard, Richard Carter, Jennifer Hagan, Gillian Jones, Angus Sampson, iOTA, Joy Smithers

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insidious II

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It was in 2011 that we were treated with one of the “different” horror movies in the name of Insidious which was partially copied to Hindi by Bollywood’s last sequel to Raaz. Now we have its sequel, in the same year as two horror big-shots release, including The Conjuring and Carrie. Never before did more than one horror movie release here in the same year, and I almost thought that this was never going to release, just like The Chainsaw 3D, Evil Dead and The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Georgia. But here we are, with this sequel, even as the original never released on the big screen here and we had to strive to get to it. It didn’t release on that original date of a Friday the 13th though, as it just released here on a Friday 15th, about two months later. Its trailer had reached here long ago, and was well received by the audience who had a great experience with The Conjuring which itself had delayed – all three horror movies releasing late here – something with the censor board or looking forward to their performances in other parts of the world before the risk is taken here? May be they underestimate the audience quite a lot. They can end their devotion to the series if there was any, and look for cheap gore.

After a small flashback into the childhood of our major father character during the time of his encounter with the Lady in Black, the Bride, the movie takes over the story from where it had left off, with Elise (Lin Shaye) dead, and the demon from the other world taking over the body of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). There is a lot of mystery over the death too. With Josh doubted by Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) and his children, Lorraine Lambert (Barbara Hershey) goes to visit Elise’s friends and partners in finding the supernatural after feeling strange occurences in the house and even seeing a woman in white. The same mysterious woman knocks out Renai after abducting their little kid for a few moments. The piano playing by itself is just one of the strange things occuring in the house. Lorraine meets up with Carl (Steve Coulter), one of the old friends of Elise, who is another paranormal investigator using his dices to contact the spirits from the other world. Through the dices, after contacting Elise, they find out that they will know something from Our Lady of Angels hospital where Lorraine used to work as a nurse during her young days.

There Lorraine remembers the story of Parker Crane (Tom Fitzpatrick), a patient who committed suicide by jumping from the top of the hospital, as he appeared to her after his death. They are guided to his home, and they soon find out that the spirit which is leading them might not be of Elise at all, and it is not a good one nor is it friendly. They come across the story of a serial killer and his mother who used to terrorize him throughout her life as well as after it. It becomes clear to them that Josh is possessed and not himself, even as the detective couldn’t find him guilty of the murder of Elise. Renai and the kids are in danger, and so are they themselves. There are only a few ideas left for their survival, and one of them might be to drug Josh and bring the original person back to his body; the other one might be to find him in the other world itself. With time running out, and a serial killer ready to come back to this world through Josh’s body, this time more powerful than before, can they make the right decision and succeed or does the demon killer take charge start its killing procedure?

So where does the sequel stand in front of the original? I would consider it as slightly better than the original, even as most of the critics seemed to have found it negative if not average. I was surprised by the same though. The movie has an unsettling atmosphere supported by a truly phenomenal settings which has been used to support the same, and give us a truly paranormal feeling. The tricks to scare the audience might feel a little repetitive, but are used in the right manner with correct effects. Yes, it i genuinely scary, and undoubtedly scarier than its predecessor. There is the presence of more scary moments and it explains most of the things which were left unexplained in the first, and also contributes to the horror of the same. The spirits are pretty much good both in the real world and the other. The Lady in White and the Bride in Black are just two of those figures which rule the screen. There is nothing like the man possessed though. Insidious: Chapter 2 undoubtedly becomes the next best horror movie to The Conjuring here, and it is still insignificant as there are only two English horror movies released here. Yes, it is effective and undoubtedly very creepy and successfully scaring people. But do not watch this if you are not a horror fan or you are pseudo-horror fan who says that this isn’t enough for “the great ME” – the things pride can do to you, my dear vain man.

Patrick Wilson is the star here, and he plays the astral traveler possessed by the demon with so much ease. We can see his transformation as he becomes more and more of the demon who has taken over his body. He seems to be a person perfectly fitting horror movies – loved his performance in The Conjuring too. He was a gifted spirit walker, but is now kept out of his body by the demon, both roles well done. There is a little bit of The Shining’s Jack Torrance in him for sure. Rose Byrne has a sweet and innocent screen presence, and Barbara Hershey is no stranger to such things, tracing back to playing that victim of supernatural sexual liasions in The Entity – her presence itself is a real boost to the movie. Jocelin Donahue plays Lorraine’s younger self to perfection, and Lin Shaye’s Elise is very good, and her younger self played by Lindsay Seim is no different. Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker provides the comic relief which is very less throughout this serious movie. Tom Fitzpatrick’s villain is strong and ruthless, yet made scary more by the visual imagery and effects rather than anything else, and so is the case with Danielle Bisutti’s Lady in white, or the Mother of Crane. The kids have limited role this time, and are no longer the focus of the movie.

Thanks to James Wan for giving us this fine sequel, the third of his brilliant horror collection beginning from Insidious and going through The Conjuring. It is very much a necessary sequel and it only adds to the value of its predecessor even as it doesn’t reach above The Conjuring. None of the two movies of the series are to be looked at alone, as they perfectly compliments each other, adding something which perfects the other. There has been nothing wrong with the badly reviewed horror flicks of the year, The Chainsaw 3D, The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Georgia, and this one – but the critics choose to devalue them for almost no real reason. They can’t understand that the Lady in White or the mother was mentally not right. I wonder why would they feel bad about people in the other world being white, and how the people in this world are able to fight with the demons in the spectral world. People are looking for strange questions while it is not the movie that makes sense, but their questions. They can’t find the answers, but it doesn’t mean that they can take the creativity of the viewer as a big zero, for nowadays it is the common arts graduate who has the right imagination. But still, The Conjuring might be the horror movie of the decade if we consider The Cabin in the Woods as not just horror.

It is the season of demons, that is for sure – just because of one thing, that Krrish 3 has been given four out of five by some strange people. Such acts of evil has forced me to keep the rating of this movie a little higher than I intended to. There are weird people in this part of the world who rate the movies of their language high, and the others low – and some of them follows the foot steps of those who reviewed it from America and Europe, but in that case, one has to consider the fact that what third rate movies like Krrish 3 would get if they review the same would be zero out of five if no negatives are allowed. So following their rating for English movie is pure hopelessness as long as they are going to rate horrible Bollywood movies with a consistent four out of five just because it has superstar sons acting in it or the same will make the pathetic fan-boys and girls incredibly happy. May be they can learn something from the Malayalam movie critics who give a maximum of three out five for the best movie of the year. Our world will only get better when the demonic fans disappear and all actors are considered as equal performers – hope Insidious could do that.

Release date: 15th November 2013 (India); 13th September 2013 (US)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey, Steve Coulter, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Lindsay Seim, Jocelin Donahue, Andrew Astor, Danielle Bisutti, Tom Fitzpatrick, Michael Beach

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.