Allegiant

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Vampire Owl :: We haven’t really managed to build our own dystopia yet.

Vampire Bat :: But why are you looking for a dystopia when it could be an utopia?

Vampire Owl :: Dystopia is the more stylish thing. Utopia is not something that much interesting for our kind.

Vampire Bat :: It is more due to your choice of movies.

Vampire Owl :: I have been choosing the right movies. You know, dystopia is the dream of every known vampire.

Vampire Bat :: That only proves that you know just a few vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I know more than you think I know. It is why I am the one true Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: Can you not think about the dystopia and watch this movie?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, just like I did for The Hunger Games. But a part of my mind is fixed on dystopia.

Vampire Bat :: Here we go again.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of tea].

What is it about in the first movie? :: The first part of this tale is set in the future, at the city of Chicago with the world being safely restricted inside walls. The society is divided into five factions, each standing for a quality, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were called the Divergents, and had to live a life without hope. Beatrice Prior a.k.a. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is one of them, but after managing to hide that information, she chooses the faction of Dauntless. During her time at the faction, she slows makes her way to the top after seeming like an underdog, and a good number of secrets are revealed in the process. There she destroys the plans of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) looking forward to take over.

How does the story go in the second movie? :: Jeanine Matthews, despite being stopped by Tris, doesn’t back away from her plans as an artifact box with the symbols of all factions is found. She feels the need to open the box, as it is believed to have the messages from the creators of the city. But opening of this particular box can only be done by a very strong Divergent who is able to go through the challenges of all four factions. As expected, Tris is the one to open the box after passing all the tests, and the message calls the Divergents the result of a successful experiment and calls them to return to the humanity that waits outside the walls. Jeanine is murdered, and lots of speculations go on about what awaits them outside the walls, as nobody has an idea about how it all got to the present situation.

So, what is this third movie about? :: The curiosity about what awaits outside the walls catches the interest of many people, but the soldiers under Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts) blocks all the paths that lead outside. The trials for their enemies is conducted by Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), but most of them become just executions. Tris and Four (Theo James) are not that interested in the happenings there, and escapes from inside the walls with Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to find out what is actually outside. There they find out just wastelands coloured red, and even the rain drops feel like drops of blood. But soon, they discover a group of people, who are technologically advanced. Lead by David (Jeff Daniels), they tell a story, but there is that question about how truthful these newfound allies are.

The defence of Allegiant :: One can safely say that this movie is an improvement from its predecessor, Insurgent, even though surely not as good as the first movie, Divergent. Based on the first half of the last book from the Divergent series from Veronica Roth, there is a fine setting for the interesting final movie which is to come. The visuals are pretty much interesting, and the world surely looks good. The action sequences get better here, and story is also an improvement from its predecessor which had spent too much time around a box. This one also has a rather positive progress of things, and comes to a happy finish even though that would have surely seen near impossible at some point. The lead actors are solid, and the romance between the leads is also something that works. The message is also on the positive side, and there should be something to take home for many.

Claws of flaw :: There is trouble in the acting department here and there, and not all special effects are that interesting to the eye. There are parts of this world which could have looked better in another way, and a number of dialogues could have also been better constructed in a more serious manner. This is also nothing like The Hunger Games which has actually proven to be the better dystopian flick with almost every book and movie. There are times when we feel that this one shouldn’t have been split into two movies, as there was better scope to be further rich in content here. There was surely the chance to be real “divergent” for this movie, but that is not really utilized, with situations going predictable on many occasions, and the tension being built not that much used to the advantage – a well-known path is followed more than any other in this case.

How it finishes :: This one does manages to keep one interested with its world, and the incidents that keep happening. The three people who make the biggest impact here though, are Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Naomi Watts. With the idea already there, and with this dystopian setting so well used in other movie, this one could have done even better; but with what all it possesses, it does make a pretty good watch. This is the kind of world which has the ability to get interested in it again and again, even though you have said no to the same thing earlier. We can only wait and see how well this one has finished to set path for the final movie in the series, as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, is to be released on June 9, 2017. With lesser box-office collections for this movie, lets see how things turn out for the final one.

Release date: 18th March 2016
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Nadia Hilker, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Bill Skarsgård, Daniel Dae Kim, Mekhi Phifer, Xander Berkeley, Jonny Weston, Keiynan Lonsdale, Anna Stevenson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insurgent

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A Flashback to Divergent :: I have noticed a number of people in the theatre being clueless about this, and therefore, lets take a flashback ride to the first movie. You can choose to skip this paragraph if you needn’t. In Divergent, within a future post-apocalyptic world of dysopian nature, the known human society is divided into five different factions according to the qualities of each person: they are Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the intelligent). There are tests done for the same and those who don’t fit into the factions or the Divergents are left with no part in the society. But one young lady called Beatrice Prior will join Dauntless despite being a Divergent, and will go on to stop the faction Erudite and its leader Jeanine Matthews’ attempt to take over as the leader of them all.

What is it about? :: Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) continues her hunt for power, as she finds an artifact box with the symbols of all factions. She needs to open it as the box is believed to have a message from the founders of the city, and she hopes that it can solve the problems of the Divergents restoring the remaining factions with her as the leader. But only a strong Divergent can open it as the procedure involves going through the simulation which includes the challenges of all the factions. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are on the run, but Jeanine’s team reaches them – they separate as Tris and Four leave for Candor after going through the Factionless which is lead by Four’s mother Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts). But things surely seem to be heading for a war.

The defence of The Divergent Series: Insurgent :: The idea has already been set, and so Insurgent has it easy to work with. The detail of the environment is very good, and it is good to watch he dystopian world in 3D. The special effects never cease to catch our attention in this movie. The action sequences remain interesting, and the audience only end up asking for more of the same. The idea of being Divergent is taken to another level, and there is twist at the ending which leaves us hoping for more in the sequel – hope the next movie delivers a lot more. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 will get released next year and The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2 in 2017, and lets hope that this works very well as there seems to be something big coming, as the impression has been made.

The Claws of Flaw :: Insurgent is a step backward from Divergent, and it is not divergent in its treatment of the subject. It doesn’t go on to establish itself as a special dystopian movie as we had expected with the ending of the first movie. The first one had established the world, but this one actually has almost nothing related to a dystopia which is provided directly and we are left to pick up a few things here and there. The message is not that powerful here with the divergence and the society. Instead, this movie tries to hold on to predictability and last minute escapes. The movie should have dared to go outside what it has established and could have brought more here. Instead, the movie manages to go on and on with the idea that we already have. There is no real attempt to change the society in a big way other than trying to bring the dictator down. Divergents are also just declared special!

Performers of the soul :: It can be safely said that it is Shailene Woodley who saves this movie from going further down its level. She has given her best here, carrying this movie forward as the Divergent protagonist. She has only made things better here, and she is the one who provides this movie with any opportunity to match up-to its predecessor even though Insurgent doesn’t end up doing so. Among the new additions to the movie, Naomi Watts stays ahead of the others, as is very much convincing and interesting. Theo James just manages to be okay playing the support. Ansel Elgort has a forgettable outing there as the strange brother character. Kate Winslet manages to be just an okay villain while Miles Teller is very good here.

Soul exploration :: Just like its predecessor, this movie also focuses on what it takes to be different or divergent, and focuses on the journey that occurs due to not agreeing to the norms of the society. In a world where moving away from the accepted norms of the society is a crime, one heroine continues to rise. This divergence leads to revolution and a change of order. Identities change here, and being smart comes with the extreme desire to rule over the others, which the intelligent faction in the movie displays. They are the masters of science and cannot stand someone else who is better than them, just like the Divergents who are good in more than one skill, and from their jealousy, the movie moves forward to the next level.

How it finishes :: The movie is based on the book of the same name, which is the second book in the much talked about Divergent trilogy written by Veronica Roth, even though the fans here seems to be lesser in number. The first one was an interesting movie itself, and the second one nicely follows the path which was set up by its prequel without doing anything special, which makes Divergent the better movie without doubt. This actually became the first Hollywood movie I watched this month, and may be the only one of its kind which I managed to review. Yes, my movie watching adventures have been decreasing, thanks to the censor board banning movies, and some of them not even making all the way here. There are also personal reasons, but I am going to find time for the same here and there as long as the bans and the selections of movies by the theatres make more sense.

Release date: 20th March 2015
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Mekhi Phifer, Ashley Judd, Daniel Dae Kim, Keiynan Lonsdale, Suki Waterhouse, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony, Janet McTeer, Jonny Weston

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Fault in Our Stars

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Vampire Owl :: Why do you have a beard?

Vampire Bat :: Do I need a reason for that?

Vampire Owl :: I think you are having a beard because you don’t want anybody to recognize you getting tickets for bad movies.

Vampire Bat :: How bad? I can even stand a movie with a zombie falling in love with a corpse.

Vampire Owl :: They have already made that in Bollywood. I think they put it in the romantic comedy genre and people seemed to enjoy it a lot. A box-office hit. Something worse was made in Malayalam. It was called Annayum Rasoolum. Another hit there.

Vampire Bat :: But this will be good.

Vampire Owl :: If it is good, the show will be cancelled. Nobody will watch it. They only want to watch dumb romance and superstar movies. I heard you watched Pizza in 3D?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, you mean to say you actually read my Facebook status?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I am making a list of the bad movies you watch. Now go and watch a movie. Meanwhile, I will create an evil plan to owlify and take over the universe.

Vampire Bat :: And that is the evil Vampire Owl prototype.

[Begins the journey].

What is it about? :: Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a cancer patient who is loved and cared by her parents Michael (Sam Trammell) and Frannie (Laura Dern) who decides to send her to a support group at the local church, feeling that she is depressed and need friends. There she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) who also had cancer and had to lose one of his legs. They form an instant liking to each other, and soon their relationship develops. As it goes on, things get stuck at Hazel’s favourite novel which doesn’t seem to have a conclusion and she desires to know the ending of this story which is about a cancer-striken girl whose life parallels her. But the author of the book, Peter van Houten has moved to Amsterdam and not replying to fan mails. As Augustus tracks down Houten’s assistant, Lidewij and they finds out that the answer will be provided in Netherlands, they decide to travel to Europe together. Even as she is unhealthier, her parents and Augustus decides to make her dream come through. Through all these, a romance also develops.

The defence of The Fault in Our Stars :: There are many stupid romantic movies that are thrown at us thinking that we viewers have no brain, and this is one beautiful exception that we have here. It is not an exaggerated display of teenage romance that we have here, and it is not terribly realistic to the core, but it has kept away from exaggeration as much as possible consider the limitations of a movie which is to appeal to the viewers and more people are to know about the feelings that the patients have. The two major characters are beautifully portrayed, and Hazel is awesome. Almost every dialogue and every interaction concerning her catches our attention and we feel for her right from the beginning to the end, and when she replies “thank you” to the compliments that are given to her in a cute tone, it gives a lot of happiness to oneself considering the way she is going through her life. The beautiful young lady gives us silver lining to our life, finding hope with an extraordinary amount of faith while going through pain and being stalked by death, the certain visitor who is being delayed by prayers and medical treatment. The romance is also beautiful, and hundred percent of the soul rather than some retarded movies which only claim to be so.

Claws of flaw :: As the adaptation of the novel of the same name by John Green, the movie might have its points missing out, but I haven’t read the book yet, and so it is not up-to me to talk about that. The movie has certain coating to make sure that it doesn’t go uninteresting to the viewers, and the extra bit of sugar-coated romance added also adds to make sure that the teenagers flock to the theatres – yes, I could see a lot of them dying for more and more romance and left without the satisfaction of seeing what they needed in a stupid romantic movie, but this movie has given them more than enough in my opinion – this is not to be considered as just a romantic movie, and that much we owe to the real people who suffer from the disease. Well, how can we find fault with a wonderfully acted movie having two people trying to live their life in a beautiful manner despite having the knowledge that they are going nowhere other than the ultimate death, or “doom” or “oblivion” as the characters do call the end in a funny way? I guess there is no need to go deep down into it. Romance is actually an intruder into the seriousness, and I wonder how this would have turned out without it – got to have been better.

Performers of the soul :: Shailene Woodley as Hazel is the spirit and soul of this movie and she makes this movie even more than what is should have been. We did see her in Divergent where she matched Jennifer Lawrence – taking Beatrice Prior to the the level of Katniss Everdeen in a lesser movie, but this is an entirely different situation. We love the attitude of her character, and Hazel is not just Hazel, and as her lover calls her, she is Hazel Grace, proving herself to to be in the grace of God or the grace herself by being a wonderful person against all her thick walls of troubles. Ansel Elgort played Shailene’s brother in Divergent, and here she plays the next best character and one has to admire the way both of these characters are written, and these two have played them to perfection. They provide the viewers with some abiding sadness along with happiness and heart-break that comes. But they are within the limits of seeing the beauty of the world. There are two things that the characters do teach us, one is that “The world is not a wish-granting factory”, and the other is that “Funerals aren’t for the dead, they are for the living” – prayers are the ones for the dead, aren’t they?

Soul exploration :: The title alludes to “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Act I Scene II. It has human situation, either good or bad, as the result of one’s own actions rather than by the power of the divine, or that human condition itself such a flawed one that divinity can play no role in it. But it is not true on most occasions, right? There are things beyond our control, and a desire to control our own fate can only be successful up-to an extent or not close to having any success at all. No, it is not our fault that we don’t achieve something or ends up on the losing side. There is always the element of luck or fate, and the existence of God’s grace that changes things. There is indeed the fault in our stars, and there is the society and the world around us that shapes us and define our lives – just too many factors which control our lives on which we sometimes have no knowledge and at other times no control, and things to do fall apart. We are all subject to the fault in the stars, and it is just that for some people, it is less visible on the outside. In some other cases, we know. We have to live through the faults, our characters did.

How it finishes :: Even as there this released last month in the United States, it has the presence here at the right time at theatres with Planes 2: Fire and Rescue 3D not creating the usual animated impact out there – only wish remains that it had more shows. For Keralites, some memory of Akasadoothu inspired by Who Will Love My Children? will be there in this movie and there is the feeling that these movies carry far beyond its own realm of existence on a big screen. The Fault in Our Stars is nicely romantic along with being tragic and still, it creates that effect which none of the movie can really create. We can only hope that people will support beautiful movies like this instead of fake and dumb romantic movies like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya which attracts audience so much. Unfortunately, for some people, they think that love is all about physical attraction and exaggerated fake romance – Bollywood continues to teach that very long story which it uses again and again without any shame or regret, just with the addition of something on bed. Sadly, such are the movies which come good at this part of the world.

Release date: 18th July 2014 (India); 6th June 2014 (USA)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Josh Boone
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Lily Kenna, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek, Mike Birbiglia, John Green (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Carrie

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You will know her name :: Yes, the movie did finally release here this week, and the name is Chloë Grace Moretz, but the name you might want to remember should be Carrietta N White, or rather the young, strange but gifted girl whom most of the horror fans will know simply as Carrie. Now, that should go back to Stephen King’s first published novel of the same name, and also to the first adaptation of the same belonging to 1976. It was my next favourite novel from the man after Salem’s Lot, The Shining and The Running Man. The early adaptation also make it to the list of my favourite horror movies of all time, even as I would consider it more of a thriller. But talking about this movie, there was just limited hope, as the original was too brilliant. Another thing is that the incidents of the movie belongs to another time, and taking the plot and dragging it by its tail to this era was not going to work that well despite the fact that they got Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore at their best. So the question would be about how much they can make out of this limited scope.

What is it about? :: Margaret White (Julianne Moore) is a mentally unstable woman who tries to murder her child at birth, but decides to raise her as she is too fanatically religious in a strange and ridiculous manner. Later, her daughter Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz), grows up to become a shy, under-confident, introvert girl despite having some strange power over things around her. She is regularly teased by her schoolmates, especially Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) who even uploads the video on youtube. Their gym teacher Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer) comforts Carrie and punishes the girls who trouble her, but Chris refuses to accept the punishment believing that Carrie has always been asking for it, and is banned from the prom. As she seeks revenge, Margaret continues to try to discipline Carrie in a ridiculous manner. Carrie learns about her power of telekenesis and tries to learn to control it. Another mate, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) regrets teasing Carrie and tries to make amends by asking her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), to take Carrie to the prom which she accepts – but it will change the lives of many people, forever.

The defence of Carrie :: The story of Carrie has been brought into a new world with camera phones and the internet. But the essence of the story remains the same. It would have been difficult to keep up with the original which was so much loved, and a story which was so much read and admired, and this movie had to struggle to keep up. The movie scores with more pace and also by creating a creepy atmosphere. The thrills does work and it is successful in throwing surprises to keep it interesting. The best scene of the movie is indeed the climax, with a bloody Carrie standing on the stage with her arms stretched and the blood leaving her body upwards, and later in the middle of the road splitting the path. The final scene of destruction by telekinesis is the only real scene of gore, and it has been well created yet again. The scenes of Carrie being teased, and the moment of realizing her power are also well portrayed. The movie doesn’t try to stay with the original in speed, and it tries to rush, and there lies both the positives and negatives of it.

The claws of flaw :: The movie tries to rush through its plot as if to extend no more than one hundred minutes of length. The movie starts with Carrie being born, and she rushes to be the shy adult girl and quickly goes on to discover her powers and speeds up to the prom. There is not much characterization going on right there, as most of the characters remain predictable and one-dimensional. Everyone except Gabriella Wilde’s Sue Snell remains the same, and remains doing what they have been doing from the beginning. Carrie learns, but that doesn’t really change her either. She is also too X-Men type, and she is that Jean Grey which most of us might have been missing since she was turned into some strange creature in X-Men 3: The Last Stand. The movie is also somewhat outdated to be set in the present background, of belonging to 2013 – yes, there are the new gadgets added, and Carrie is humiliated with the help of a smartphone and youtube. But all the incidents seem to tell us that a setting much older would have been more suitable. To add to it, an ending which has Carrie rising is rather stupid, and she should have remained dead, to be awesome.

Performers of the soul :: Chloë Grace Moretz steals the show with a performance that makes this movie rise above where it is. It should be of no surprise as she did the same, at a much younger age in Kick-Ass, and in a much smaller role in Dark Shadows. With an acting career at the age of seven, she continues to strike gold, this time at the age of sixteen. Julianne Moore also makes a fine mentally troubled mother, but there could have been ever more dimensions to the character – this one is approached in a rather lazy manner by the writers. Portia Doubleday and Gabriella Wilde could have switched characters though, as the latter could have been a better nemesis to the lady in trouble, like Sara Paxton did as Rachel Witchburn in Sydney White, and what we had seen in Mean Girls with Rachel McAdams as Regina George. Meanwhile, the former tries to come up with pure evil, but ends up being just another bad girl trying to be so evil, and succeeds in the same only with her actions, and to be frank, she doesn’t have that evil aura. Gabriella could have nailed that role, but here she had to be the bad girl turned good due to conscience attacks.

Soul exploration :: The movie is a story of a girl who is bullied throughout her life, and in that manner, takes on a social cause. In another scenario, we could have thought about the Bollywood movie Table No.21 which had taken itself as a story against ragging. Carrie is nothing less, as for such a character who is rather nice and God-fearing, the whole world becomes a challenge. She becomes a misfit and a medium for the disgusting new generation to make fun of. The new generation has been moving further and further away from conscience and goodness, and Carrie is indeed a martyr of a new society which finds fun in being rude and evil. To add to it, she has a mentally unstable mother who pretends to be some kind of pure believer, something which is nothing less than a case deserving to be in mental asylum. She did become an alien for many, who could have done so well if they could have just left her alone rather than being bothered. Carrie tells its viewers to respect people for what they are, and sends a message against bullying and ragging.

How it finishes :: If one has not watched the original or read the books, this should be a very interesting Carrie White, and Chloë Grace Moretz might be the only Carrie they know, as well as their favourite one. Sissy Spacek is not going to be forgotten though, that is for sure. Carrie is going to be a more interesting source of telekinetic powers than the other superheroes who possess something similar. Being locked up under the stairs, Carrie becomes no Harry Potter, but gets something better than being invited to Hogwarts, something which doesn’t spawn sequels and a guy without nose. Moving things around is no magic, and our girl is no mutant – there is no background story about her or her mother, and that should make some people unhappy and the rest rather more joyful about the mystery. Even if we leave the superpower side behind, Carrie is the story of many students who have been bullied, and as long as ragging and all such stuff exist somewhere, Carrie’s tale of revenge is of extreme relevance.

Release date: 17th January 2014 (India); 18th October 2013 (USA)
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Gabriella Wilde, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Belkin, Karissa Strain, Katie Strain, Samantha Weinstein, Cynthia Preston

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.