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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anna

Vampire Owl: There is nothing more interesting than a spy thriller.

Vampire Bat: Do you remember The Man from UNCLE?

Vampire Owl: Yes, that was one of my favourite movies of that time.

Vampire Bat: This one is a very serious movie in comparison though.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that this is partially Russian, French and American.

Vampire Bat: Well, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.

Vampire Owl: Can Anna be a John Wick or Hitman with the gunfights?

Vampire Bat: Well, we are going to know that with clarity, soon.

Vampire Owl: Still, my favourite Anna names have been Anna Kournikova and Ana Ivanovic without the extra N.

Vampire Bat: This Anna should make an impact too, even for the vampires.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: During the time period between 1985 and 1990, the tension is high between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, as CIA and KGB try to prove the quality of their work in the final few years of the Cold War. At the same time, Anna (Sasha Luss), is a young Russian girl whp has been the victim of domestic abuse, being abused both physically and sexually by her husband, Piotr (Alexander Petrov). The man is a criminal and a drug addict, forcing his wife to become part of his illegal actions while wasting no time in making her feel as his property – she would do anything to get out of her situation. One day, after a failed attempt to take money from an ATM using an American tourist’s card and shooting at police, he attempts to leave the city with her, only to be stopped by Alexander Tchenkov (Luke Evans) who murders Piotr and offers Anna a job at the agency for five years, as he was impressed by her earlier profile and background before she became enslaved at her present situation with her husband.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Her father was earlier in the military force, and she had also tried to enlist into the navy. With the problems created by her husband looming over her, she agrees to Alexander’s offer and serve the country in a different way in comparison to her father, and joins the training. Later, we see that she becomes an undercover agent, after selling dolls in a marked in Russia, and later being taken to France, becoming one of the top models in Paris. As a part of her cover, she also pretends to be in a relationship with the lesbian model who worked with her, Maude (Lera Abova). She does manage to assassinate her target Oleg (Andrew Howard) who had revealed to her something which KGB wanted to hear, the revelation ending up as the reason for his death. Leonard Miller (Cillian Murphy), a CIA agent does get some clue of her involvement in the murder, but he lets him go at that time. But there is something else happening in the background – what could that be?

The defence of Anna :: There is no doubt about the ability of this movie to thrill, as it has a large number of twists in store – you rarely see what is coming, as at one moment you see something and think about it, but the very next moment, you are up for a surprise. The action sequences are really good, reminding you of movies like John Wick and Hitman among the others, and you love how well the leading lady has handled everything around here. The tale does have something to keep us interested at almost every point, meaning that there is no dull moment at all. There are also some beautiful visuals set for us here, and we watch the wonderful action take place in different nations in the middle of all that magnificence. There is one final action sequence which is so long, and the protagonist going on shooting people – it is impressive, and so are many other sequences which catch our attention, while staying with us, especially the fans of genre.

The claws of flaw :: Anna has a little more flashbacks than one should want it to have. They also come up at a time when you are not expecting them, and are not needed, making it not that easy to follow the movie in the way it should be followed. The problem it creates affects the timeline more than anything else, and we are confused about what happened before which incident – we just cannot keep track of everything which has happened in the timeline, because there are so many of separate incidents, and when you squeeze something from another point of time into the world when something interesting is going on, there is a certain loss of control. The movie should have done very well with everything going in a straight line, with one or two flashback sequences. It could have also used a little bit of humour which was there to be taken on a number of occasions, but the movie avoids it to go back to its usual pace.

Performers of the soul :: Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova does a fantastic job as the femme fatale, assassin and the spy who works as a model when she is undercover. As she is really a Russian fashion model in life, it seems to work well for her, and as the assassin, she is perfect too, without feelings as she shows almost no regret after the murders. The one person who seems to match her in such action is Olga Kurylenko, the Ukraine-born model who moved from Russia to France just like the main character here. Luke Evans who had slain the dragon in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, brought the villainy in Fast and Furious 6, embraced vampirism in Dracula Untold and went on an unstoppable killing spree in No One Lives, gets to be strong one here too, as he plays the KGB agent who recruits the protagonist. Cillian Murphy on the other side plays the CIA agent with ease. Helen Mirren’s role is the usual, and plays with no difficulty in regular style.

How it finishes :: Anna is one of the best thrilling action adventures which you might have seen in a long time, and it reminds one of movies like The Man from UNCLE. Luc Besson, the director has already given us some wonderful films in the recent past including the fantastic interstellar adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and the strong action thriller Lucy, along with those older classic movies like Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element. This one is just another wonderful addition to the list, as you go through the twists and thrills without taking your eyes off what is going on. The Brian De Palma movie starring Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Femme Fatale is one another movie which comes to the mind with this flick, but nothing matches Anna in its twists along with the action, as there is one coming after the other, and in the end, you know that nothing was happening the way you felt earlier, or later.

Release date: 10th July 2019
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren, Lera Abova, Anna Krippa, Nastya Sten, Alexander Petrov, Nikita Pavlenko, Aleksey Maslodudov, Eric Godon, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Andrew Howard, Ivan Franek

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Wick 3

What is the movie about? :: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) had murdered Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) at The Continental Hotel, violating the rule that there would be no blood on its grounds. Winston (Ian McShane), the owner and manager of the hotel had delayed announcing the resulting excommunication and global bounty by an hour to give him a head start. Now being an excommunicado, John is on the run, and is confronted by lesser assassins even before his time started. With a fourteen million bounty on his head, and on the run from assassins, he manages to gain a safe passage to Casablanca in Morocco by claiming a favour from a lady known as the Director (Anjelica Huston). There he meets Sofia (Halle Berry) who owes him a favour and asks her to lead him to the Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui), a high ranked member of the high table who could take the bounty off his head.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is during the same time that an adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) from the high table meets with Winston, who is asked to give up his office in seven days. Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), the leader of a network of vagrant assassins is also asked to give up his position. There would be serious consequences if both were to disagree. An assassin known as Zero (Mark Dacascos) is recruited by her for the mission. He, along with his assassin team members, take on the helpers of John Wick. At the same time, John does come up with a deal, but there is more to be done, and there are so many assassins after him. He would wish to stop this and live in the memories of his wife, but that wouldn’t be possible that easily. Winston and Bowery King wishes to keep their part too, but that will be quite difficult too.

The defence of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum :: We have watched the previous two chapters, and one can safely say that the franchise has had a clear improvement, with the second chapter being better than the first, and this third chapter rising above the predecessors. The improvements come in different fields – one is the action, which is surely better, and each sequence and each kill seems to have something in it. There are some interesting sequences in the beginning itself, and in the end, we have another grand one. The ending also assures us of another sequel, and more blood bath. The visuals are also part of the improvement, as what we see on the screen, with the shots from the distance, or even inside the fighting places are all really good. The humour also sees a certain improvement, and a few are there when least expected. Most of us have played the game Hitman, on the silent assassin, and John Wick goes loud, like Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit.

The claws of flaw :: The phrase “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, means “If you want peace, prepare for war”, and “parabellum” in the movie name calls for war, which brings a lots of blood and gore which may not be acceptable for everyone – its actually a lot more than the previous movie, but as we won’t have the original uncut version here, that won’t be a problem for our audience here. One would also wonder why the movie decided not to have a better storyline behind all the big action. While Keanu Reeves is too good here, we miss Ruby Rose with that intensity in the last movie – Asia Kate Dillon never comes up with any action, and Halle Berry is wasted in a small role looking the same all the time. More of Laurence Fishburne would have also been appreciated. Everything also comes together in a way that makes a number of incidents in the movie not worthy, and some replacements could have made it feel better.

How it finishes :: John Wick 3 undoubtedly brings the best full action movie in a long time, maybe the most significant one after Mission Impossible: Fallout. Well, there are many other genres which those usual action movies could fit in, but this one is perfectly suited for exactly one category. But one thing that will surprise the movie fans is related to this flick’s availability in the theatres. As of now, it seems to be available in only one multiplex in Cochin, which is PVR Cinemas in Lulu Mall. The closest place where one can find the same is many kilometres away, in the next district, at INOX in Sobha City Mall, Thrissur. With Avengers: Endgame reigning and breaking all records, there might be no place for another English movie, but with John Wick shows running full, there has to be more, and it is one thing which the assassin deserves. At least it should stay for more.

Release date: 17th May 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane

*Below is a short review on another movie which I watched during this weekend – Ishq.

[Short Review: Ishq (2019: Malayalam) – The movie talks about two lovers who are harassed by moral policing locals. It has some fine performances from whole of its cast, and the idea is definitely a good one, with a reflection of certain incidents which have happened in the past. The Shine and Shane combination works like a dream. There is also one beautiful song and the first few moments are nicely done until they get repetitive, and the ending is nice. But with its story and the execution as a whole, the movie struggles. There is also the lack of some good characterization, and wastes its female characters except for the moments in the beginning and the end. The characters act in strange ways as in a brainless slasher movie, leaving the realistic side a long way behind. A journey from a road thriller to home invasion, from “In Fear” to “Funny Games” can always be better.

If there were messages intended, then also the movie gives the wrong ones, as reflected in the response of the audience – they are clapping to those mass scenes which go against the spirit of the movie itself, and in the end, except for the people online, especially on Facebook, others are not seen as giving the highly positive opinions. Giving a tagline which nobody really cares to read is also not an excuse to not living up to what the title says. The movie seems to be something created out of anger rather than with a mission, and to work with the common audience, we need the latter – the intellect has advantage over instinct, and it is something to be kept in mind when dealing with an issue like this one. This was a movie which had a great chance at being something brilliant, but fails to be there, as it embraces mediocrity.]

Also refer to similar movies like Varathan and Uncle which were better.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Wick 2

Vampire Owl: We need to hire this man. He looks a lot effective.

Vampire Bat: But he is always looking for vengeance.

Vampire Owl: We can make him follow our path. There is just the need to have someone from our enemies list kill his dog.

Vampire Bat: He is a ruthless assassin with connections. He will find out in the end.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that we will have to call the Accountant to finish our job.

Vampire Bat: I thought that you would say Mechanic.

Vampire Owl: I would just kill them myself and get the Transporter to get rid of the werewolf heads.

Vampire Bat: You can always hire Codename 47, you know.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is just that he keeps on getting the reboots, I think.

Vampire Bat: Just keep yourself away from John Wick‘s dog and also his car.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Krackjack biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: John Wick (Keanu Reeves), the retired assassin who had earlier returned to killing people after his dog was killed and his car was stolen by Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), is not finished with what he had been doing. He searches for, and finds his stolen car at a chop shop owned by Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), the uncle of Iosef. After killing all the men, John spares the life of Tarasov in the name of peace and returns home only to find more of his previous life following him there. After the car which was heavily damaged in the fight is taken for repairs by Aurelio (John Leguizamo), John is provided a surprise visit by the Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), to whom he had sworn an oath, often referred to as a marker, which had helped him to finish the impossible task that had set him free from the world of blood and gore, and allowed him to marry Helen (Bridget Moynahan).

So, what happens next in the movie? :: John Wick is supposed to be someone who could keep doing the impossible, as Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) himself had acknowledged before being dead, and a confident Santino asks John for the favour in return, but the tired assassin decides against going through the violent ways again, and says no without even listening to what the crime lord wanted him to do. An angry Santino goes back to his car, and returns with a grenade launcher to destroy John’s home, almost killing him in the process. John escapes and goes on to meet Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of the Continental hotel in New York City, who tells him to abide by the rules, and he is supposed to honour the promise made in the form of the marker. John decides to play by the rules, and meets Santino again, who provides him the mission of assassinating his sister Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini) to claim her seat among the top-level crime lords.

And what follows the same in the movie? :: John gets to Gianna during a party, where she is under the protection of expert fighter and bodyguard Cassian (Common). Even though John is successful in his mission with her choosing to commit suicide rather than get killed, he is chased by the group of tem lead by Santino’s right-hand, a mute young lady known by the name Ares (Ruby Rose), and also by Cassian who seeks vengeance. With Santino himself putting a seven million dollar bounty on the former retired assassin, John Wick has no option, but to fight for his life – Cassian is determined to have his revenge, and Ares is determined to show her allegiance and effectiveness to her master. There are assassins jumping on him out of nowhere, and he decides to have a meeting with the underground crime lord The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), but where does their conflict of interests and a troublesome past lead them?

The defence of John Wick: Chapter 2 :: The first movie had become a surprise hit, and this one also follows the same pattern, making things even better by a good margin. Keanu Reeves is also the bigger assassin with this one, and he remains the core. He continues to be at his best as the action hero, doing what he has been doing the best. There is also no humans dead in the name of dogs, as it happens in the name of cows in some parts. The style factor is also too good, and all the action sequences, a lot of them if we consider the total, catch our attention. Among all those who fight the deadly assassin, it is Ruby Rose who comes up with the most memorable show – there is that intensity in her despite being mute, that we feel that she might be one lady whom nobody should have the misfortune of facing. There is that final battle with her, and also the one that we see in the beginning that catch our eyes more than any other. Then there is Laurence Fishburne, evergreen as you would find him in an action thriller.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much in the story here, as it was in the first movie, with the assassin going on killing more and more people, most of them assassins themselves; it is still better than going on to kill people in the name of a dead dog which is given too much importance. The predictability factor is high, as we do have some idea about how things are going to go on and on – John Wick is not that much about surprises, as you might already know from the first movie. This one is also about how great John Wick is, and there is also the presence of those strange laws and oaths which shift the focus. There is also another dog which leaves the option to have another revenge as soon as it is killed. The violence is also there throughout, and deaths have been more and more glorified with this movie. The climax could have also been greater, as something bigger seemed to be getting ready to come up, but unfortunately, that didn’t really happen.

How it finishes :: A long way ahead of the first movie, The defence of John Wick: Chapter 2 is the movie which is once again certain to have your attention with Keanu Reeves going through all the action once again. You have a very nice example of the sequel becoming better than the original movie here, a feature which has more and more examples of things being the other way around – the sequel here has 7.9/10 to 7.2/10, 75% to 68% at Metacritic and 91% to 85% at Rotten Tomatoes, and almost double the box-office collections, compared to the original. There is also a third movie coming up, and we can be sure that it is also going to follow the same pattern, and with all things going more and more global, we can expect more firepower, and a lot more action with the next flick in the franchise. After watching John Wick: Chapter 2, one can safely wait for John Wick: Chapter 3, as we know how much is there to happen in a third movie. The man is a legend, and so we can’t really expect him to finish his tale in two chapters, with so much of him to be unleashed again and again with the certainty of the tides?

Release date: 10th February 2017
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne, Common, Riccardo Scamarcio, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Claudia Gerini, Bridget Moynahan, Lance Reddick, Thomas Sadoski, David Patrick Kelly, Peter Stormare, Franco Nero, Peter Serafinowicz, Tobias Segal

PS: For the awaited release of the weekend, see the review on Kadam Katha.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Red Jacket

Vampire Owl: Revenge has been my motivation to live for centuries.

Vampire Bat: But we don’t really live – as we were already dead and transformed into vampires long ago.

Vampire Owl: I was referring to life on this world after death.

Vampire Bat: Even that way, I am sure that all of your human enemies should have dead by now. It has been centuries!

Vampire Owl: Yes, but revenge is still sweet, and I have a Hamlet type problem, but I need to have it.

Vampire Bat: Well, in that case, the only option is to ask Doctor Frankenstein to bring them alive. But I am not sure how far he will be able to go.

Vampire Owl: No, because in case of a failure, I will be forced to take my revenge on the doctor too.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you realize that revenge never really bring anything in the end?

Vampire Owl: I am not sure, but revenge has been quite a popular thing in vampire history too.

Vampire Bat: Let me tell you that it is of no good. You waste your life trying to do it, and it is a terrible loss.

[Gets three cups of Kumily tea with a piece of marble cake].

What is the movie about? :: There is a man in red jacket who is killed by another man working under him, who wishes to take his place, not by slowly working his way up, but by simply getting rid of his boss. The killer establishes himself as the new boss and take the dead man’s red jacket for himself. He gets to live the dead man’s life and establishes himself a big shot in the city, and years later, as someone even having the chance of becoming an MLA or a minister at some point – he keeps growing with the city. It is after these many years that we see Vetri (Kowshik) who is looking for revenge against a man called Gaja (Gani) who had killed his father twenty years ago, pointing back to the incident which was shown in the beginning of the movie. He has already failed many times to have his revenge, even hiring contract killers to do the work but for no use, and this time, he feels that he will do it directly.

So, what is to follow in this tale of revenge? :: With the help of his friend Reddy (Peekay), he decides that he will make one move against the killer of his father, who has gone on to become bigger than his father had ever been, with newspapers and magazines talking about the man all the time. It has been the only thing that kept him moving forward in his life, and there is nothing that he wouldn’t do to restore his father’s place. But is he strong enough to do that, and is someone as powerful and experienced as Gaja going to fall for the trap set by the young man? Reddy had already warned him against the possible consequences and did set up someone from Gaja’s group of men to help him when there – but will all these be for nothing in front of an enemy who seems rather invincible? Is the need for revenge bigger than everything else in human life? What happens when it become bigger than life itself for the youth?

On Red Jacket and beyond :: The tale of revenge has been nicely packed, and we have some nice moments and dialogues to go with it. There are also some interesting twists to come, and it keeps us guessing about what is to happen next, with the revenge as well as what could follow after that. The same is well-supported by a fine cast which goes so nicely with the tale. With so many short-films around, there is some fine work by the team here to make this an interesting and entertaining twenty minute run. In the end, we will only wonder about what it means to have revenge – isn’t there another reaction to our action, which will once again keep the chain of events going? It is a series of events that never ends, and it won’t matter what we think about revenge, or about how it can end, as it goes on, like the certainty of the tides. Well, an act of revenge can be nothing less than opening a door to another beginning, which will leave scope for another attempt at retribution, and it can get nastier, and costlier as it repeats itself.

Soul exploration 1: The need for revenge :: The central theme of Red Jacket remains about revenge, which runs directly through its centre. The movie is powered by the need for vengeance, and it drives its protagonist through troubled waters, as he never thinks about another way out – he is far beyond redemption as this need takes over him from all possible directions. Revenge has been something for which people have striven for, rather so much – but, we see that the protagonist’s friend himself ask is it isn’t better to make things better by beating their enemy through business, but our young protagonist immediately says no, as the idea of revenge has been more about one thing in our culture, and it certainly involves self-destruction along with destroying one’s enemy. It is the same thought that drives our hero here, and there are no thoughts about the consequence of the action – a reflection of the arrogant youth of all times.

Soul exploration 2: The need for power :: The movie’s title is the next thing that becomes the focus, as red jacket is the one worn by the men in power. It stands out in almost every shot, and it gets special attention in those moments when everything else is shot in black and white. When it is there, you see it as the symbol of power, and the one thing that everyone wishes to wear, but those who wear it are all murdered – as with great power comes those who wish to take it away from you. When you are that much visible, it makes you a target. Yet, people wants to hold on to those positions of power, which provides them power over others – people feels the need to have more of fame, and there is no clue of what they are facing. What do people attempt to achieve with social media? That should be exactly the same thing, and as much as power and fame feels good, it also has the other side which has the power to end everything which is not permanent.

How it finishes :: Red Jacket is the first short-film from the team behind it, and has been made in both the Tamil version which I watched, and a Kannada version – but after watching this one, we are sure that there are more to come following the tale. The same will make it to the list of my favourite Indian short-films among those I have come across in the last few years. It deals with the idea of revenge in a way that makes it a highly intriguing run throughout those twenty minutes. The subtitle option is also available, and by the end, the message is loud and clear about revenge, that those who take up the sword and live by it, will die by the same; for violence never really solves anything, but makes way for more of blood to flow. The release date of the short-film is pending, and will be updated when it is announced. When it is up for everyone to watch, do make sure that you don’t miss the twenty minute long saga of revenge. UPDATE: Movie released, and can be watched from the below link.

Release date: To be announced
Running time: 20 minutes
Directed by: KV Raja Saravanan
Starring: Kowshik, Gani, Prashanth, Peekay, Arun, Chethan, Rafeek, Chida, Santosh


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Accountant

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Vampire Owl: Yes, I have added the name to the list.

Vampire Bat: To which list? What kind of list have you made now?

Vampire Owl: Mr. Transporter, Mr. Mechanic and Mr. Codename 47.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that they are all people “specialised” in one particular thing, and they lead us through those sequences of action and thrills.

Vampire Owl: It is exactly what my list about.

Vampire Bat: The Accountant actually has the most hair on the head among all these people.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I will add it to the comments section when I make the Excel sheet.

Vampire Bat: You are keeping an Excel sheet about this?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I am also keeping a backup of the same on my external hard disc.

Vampire Bat: You really need better ways to spend free-time, don’t you?

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

What is the movie about? :: Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) works as a forensic accountant for a number of enterprises, most of them being criminal organizations or those with similar interests from all around the world. His only connection is a voice on his phone that comes from a restricted number, which helps him in getting work as well as disappear with another identity. After being a child with high-functioning autism when he was a child, he was trained by his father who was a special forces officer, to defend himself in a world of chaos where he would always be considered to be different and as an outsider. Christian has managed to work this in his favour, and use what all he had learnt during an intense training, as part of his work, which is not limited to being a normal accountant. He is known in many circles as simply “the accountant”, and he has been a rather anonymous force which people have found hard to tackle.

So, what happens next? :: Christian’s latest assignment includes auditing a robotics corporation known by the name Living Robotics, where the accountant at the place, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick), has found something strange within the records which doesn’t really add up. As Christian finds out that things are more complicated than they thought, the CFO of the company, Ed Chilton (Andy Umberger) is murdered by an assassin (Jon Bernthal), and his death is declared as the result of an insulin overdose. The whole problem in the accounts is considered to be his doing, and the case is closed, but Christian is not happy with the same, as he suspects that a thicker plan is at work. Meanwhile, the Accountant is being pursued by Raymond King (J.K. Simmons) of the Treasury Department, and he asks data analyst Marybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to find him, as a reward for not exposing her criminal past. Where will this game go for the Accountant?

The defence of The Accountant :: An intelligent movie that entertains – The Accountant successfully becomes that; for we have the smarter side working well with the story, and the action scenes are very well done too. We do feel them to be realistic, and there is not much of an exaggerated style added here at any moment. Even though it begins slowly, it just keeps better and better to reach that nice finish – in between, the best thing is that there is no romance in between, which would have deviated things further here. In the beginning, you are unsure about how things are going to be, and how everything will come together in the end – well, things do finish well, there is no doubt about that. The presence of a strong emotional side comes as a boost too. You can be happy about having watched an action movie with quite a lot of brain behind it, which is reflected on the screen too – the performances add as more boost.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is a little too slow in its beginning, and it is only when the flick is near one hour mark that things begin to get interesting – the last one hour and fifteen minutes see steady rise in the overall entertainment factor of the movie, and we are sent on that thrilling ride that has a lot of action around. The complicated parts of this movie will also keep some people away, with the tale being told with so many flashbacks, some of them surely disrupting the overall flow of this movie – a number of people will be left with questions to ask after watching the flick, no matter how clear it will seem to the others. The movie is also so many things at the same time, and by going through more than one genre in the process, some people are certain to wonder if some focus was lost in between. The second plot involving the investigation on the Accountant was the one which needed something more of a boost.

Performers of the soul :: Ben Affleck as the Accountant leads the way here, and there are no surprises about how well he manages this complicated character who is more of a survivor and a man with his own ideas about doing the right thing, rather than anything else. He surely scores with this one, a lot more than what he did as Batman in Batman v Superman, with him being in control all the time – maybe this deserves to have a sequel before that superhero flick gets one. Anna Kendrick also makes a nice addition to this movie, and she looks more than just correct for this role – you will realize that she is really good, if you haven’t yet; she has a lot of moments to look out for. Cynthia Addai-Robinson doesn’t have much of expression going in her way though, as she has that face throughout the movie. It was so much about Ben Affleck’s character though, and so others matter less. Still, you are sure to like how Jon Bernthal gets on with his job.

How it finishes :: The Accountant is the action movie which doesn’t keep things simple, and it is one thing that anyone who is going to watch this movie needs to keep in mind. The presence of action sequences is certain, but they don’t come alone. This movie also leaves with a potential for further sequels, like The Transporter and Mechanic has already displayed, John Wick is on the process of displaying, and Hitman has been doing with the reebot. Among all these, The Accountant has the best potential, with its origin story already done, and its protagonist being someone different. As long as you can take those slow beginnings in this movie, there are those thrills and action sequences that await you – give The Accountant a try, and you are surely not going to be disappointed with the entertainment, as well as a smart side to go with it.

Release date: 14th October 2016
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jake Presley, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Andy Umberger, Alison Wright

theaccountant

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mechanic: Resurrection

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Vampire Owl: This reminds me of someone I know very closely.

Vampire Bat: Oh, you mean the Transporter. Or the Hitman.

Vampire Owl: None of them – I know that they are exclusive to the human race.

Vampire Bat: Then who are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: Don’t you remember my zombie minion who was a mechanic?

Vampire Bat: He fixed tombstones. You can’t call him a mechanic.

Vampire Owl: Well, we work through magic. What else is there to repair?

Vampire Bat: But the Mechanic here is a Hitman!

Vampire Owl: And Jason Statham is supposed to be the Transporter!

Vampire Bat: They are all professionals – Hitman, Transporter and Mechanic and there is minimum hair on the head. So, consider them as equals in a divided society and lets watch the movie.

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

What is the movie about? :: Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham), has left his job as the “mechanic”, which has been a fancy name for a skilled hitman for very long when he was in the field. As he had been more than a professional assassin who specialized in making his assassinations look like accidents, random criminal acts, suicides or just something that happened as a part of collateral damage, he is never really away from his job with the past following him all the time. After pretending to be dead, he has been living in Rio de Janeiro after taking over the name Santos, with no noise, and no more repairing with assassinations as a mechanic. He is approached by a lady named Renee Tran (Rhatha Phongam) who tells him that she knows who he is – she wants him to kill three targets for her boss, and they have to look like accidents or normal deaths.

So, what happens next? :: Using his special skills and experience, Arthur makes his escape from Renee and her mercenaries, making his way into the resort of his old friend, Mae (Michelle Yeoh) in Thailand. There he meets a woman called Gina Thorne (Jessica Alba) who is beaten by a man, and saves her, but later realizes that she is the bait, and someone has put her there to make him fall for her, so that he can later make him do assassinations for him – the same person who was following him in Latin America. It is the man called Crain (Sam Hazeldine) who used to be Arthur’s childhood friend, but that bond no longer remained, only to turn into hate later. He would kidnap the woman, and ask Arthur to do the three kills to keep her safe. Arthur has decided to make sure that Gina remains safe, and so he goes after his first target. But this one is inside a prison, and won’t be that easy – and two more will follow.

The defence of Mechanic: Resurrection :: There is unlimited action guaranteed with this sequel, and one can safely see that it is even bigger than its predecessor in that particular department. All the action remains simple, but effective, and there is no shortage of thrills in this journey. The action actually begins in the first location itself, and there is a fine dose of the same in between – the executions are also nicely done, especially, the one from under the swimming pool at the top of the skyscraper. There are some nice twists to go with the same too, and none of these are without style here – we all know what Jason Statham is capable of from all he has done within this genre. Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and Bulgaria – the settings for this movie are all beautiful without doubt; especially those first shots at Rio de Janeiro and what all follows at those times in Thailand.

The claws of flaw :: People might have wished for something more in the story with this second addition to the franchise – a lot more than the usual thing, but they had to be satisfied with the hitman doing jobs with this one. There might also be the need for a more standardized progress with a movie like this and also the requirement for better dialogues and moments to remember. Another thing is that people are going to compare, and that might not do much good here – it is enjoyable what you see on the screen that matters the most. You are also sure to ask more from Jessica Alba’s character and also for Michelle Yeoh. Mechanic: Resurrection could have chosen to satisfy them all, but the fact that it doesn’t try to do the same means that we can watch them all without being bothered by the rest of the world.

Performers of the soul :: Jason Statham once again shines with what he does the best – it used to be The Transporter, Crank or The Expendables, and here, he continues to create that impression on us, as we watch him take on the bad guys. As the person who has been the Transporter before, and as the person who has been the fans’ first preference to become Agent 47 in Hitman, he easily goes through this role which demands nothing that special from someone who is so close to this genre. Well, we need to watch him in this kind of roles as it is how we have known him for a long time. As the hero that we want him to be, he is there again. It is good to see Jessica Alba again, but her role is a little too limited in this one, becoming the damsel in distress for too much time. Sam Hazeldine makes a pretty good villain here, and Tommy Lee Jones scores with the screen time that he has. Michelle Yeoh could also been used more.

How it finishes :: A lot of people might have chosen to degrade this movie, and it might not be the overrated critics’ material – but that doesn’t take out anything from this movie which delivers, and we have no doubt about that. Grossing more than its predecessor, this one proves that there is more to the movie than what the reviews say – Mechanic: Resurrection is not the kind of movie that goes for brainless entertainment either, and so you can be sure that critics have got this wrong, and it is not the case of just with one person. After watching this movie against many opinions, I have only found people who had told that this movie is disappointing, as disappointing for me. It happens very often with action movies as well as the horror flicks; we know a movie is good, and there are those reviews which look at the flicks in a strange way – but we get over it and go through to watch the movie.

Release date: 26th August 2016
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Dennis Gansel
Starring: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, Rhatha Phongam, Natalie Burn, Anteo Quintavalle, Femi Elufowoju, John Cenatiempo, Toby Eddington

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*Also check Ouija: Origin of Evil, Lights Out, The Witch, Vatican Tapes and Before I Wake specially for this Friday the 13th inspired weekend.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hitman: Agent 47

hitman47.

Vampire Owl: It has been a long time since I last played this game. I am having heavy Hitman nostalgia.

Vampire Bat: It is not just about this game, but a lot more. Our gaming life has been dead for very long.

Vampire Owl: I will just consider this as a video game then. May be it is actually so, and it could be the reason why there are so many negative reviews on this movie.

Vampire Bat: It is not really surprising. Some people will give very high ratings to violent movies when it is directed a particular person, for absolutely no reason. The content is not important for them there. But we will see Hitman: Agent 47 as it is really supposed to be watched. We owe that much to our gaming past.

[Gets the tickets].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1078-hitman-movie-review.html

Hitman is a name which is heard a lot among the gaming circles, and the love for this assassin goes back to the year 2000 when Hitman: Codename 47, the first game of the Hitman video game franchise, from IO Interactive released. Among the PC games, this had a special status, and one can proudly accept that this is something which changed the future of stealth-based action games. The sequels including Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money were all much talked about titles in the gaming world, and with more in the shops and a new title coming up for the gamers, another movie based on the video game was inevitable.

Dr. Peter Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds) is the man behind a secret laboratory experiment which involved the creation of perfect assassins who never felt any remorse, fear or love, and had highly exaggerated speed, stamina, strength and intelligence which made them the perfect killing machines. But realizing the fact that he was doing something wrong, he abandons the idea and idea and disappears, leaving very powerful people on his trail. His daughter Katia (Hannah Ware) is also on the run, hiding somewhere in Berlin according to the last information. Many organizations have tried to recreate the idea and couldn’t succeed; one of them called Syndicate International decides to find the girl and get to the father at any cost.

As ICA (International Contracts Agency) decides to stop the Syndicate from getting its hands on the program, Agent 47 is contacted by his contact Diana (Angela Baby) and is provided with two names to terminate. Katia who has some strange visions and special sensory skills is searching for her father while she is approached by a man called John Smith (Zachary Quinto) who offers her protection against people who are trying to kill her. Meanwhile, Agent 47 finds and approaches her, but gets into a gunfight with John while Katia runs away. But there will be more to it than what meets the eye as the people of the Syndicate won’t rest until they get what they want.

The success of this movie will depend on what each viewer expects from a flick like this – if it is a cent percent adaptation of the game which is expected, they are going to be disappointed. There is not much of a stealth mode for this protagonist as in the game. But when we look at this from another side, isn’t a lot of action also possible in the Hitman games? The second game of the franchise actually had a lot of situations where one could just go through the enemies and the character shoots people without trying that much of stealth. Our protagonist has those special skills for big action too, and he has used them very well here – it is just that things are done rather straight for a change.

This seems to have a series of incidents which follow the great assassinations of Agent 47, as one the villains do say that he is a big fan of the protagonist’s work. So, the man has already had his shares of silent assassinations, and so if we are looking for a stealth mode, we should rather ask for a prequel rather than keep saying that Agent 47 works in shadows and doesn’t come out as an action hero. Here, Hitman is immersed in full action, and what the viewers need to do is to enjoy the wonderful sequences rather than keep complaining about it. About the story, it is surely working well, and has a number of similarities to the first game of the franchise.

Even though there is not much from the rest, Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware do leave a nice impact in this movie. Hitman: Agent 47 uses the action sequences to some great advantage, and sets up well for both the prequel and the sequel, even though one still has to doubt the possibility for the same. There is a lot of style in the way in which the action sequences are taken, and the blood and gore also maintains that quality. What one has to wonder about here is if people only care about gore when some directors use it? Stylish violence is not something that is particularly booked for a few people. Hitman: Agent 47 uses it here, and you have to admit that it is worthy.

Hitman: Agent 47 might be in no way that much interesting for everyone. But what it provides the gamers is an opportunity to see one of the most loved game characters on the big screen, despite the liberties which the movie has taken while doing full justice to the action side. This is not the movie which you need to think about a lot and compare with other titles and the games themselves, but enjoy it as the action-adventure that it has brought to the viewers. You might not remember the story for a long time, but the way of recreating the video game is worth it; there is something about a different take on the same subject, right?

Release date: 4th September 2015 (India); 21st August 2015 (USA)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Aleksander Bach
Starring: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciarán Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann, Angela Baby, Dan Bakkedahl, Emilio Rivera, Rolf Kanies, Jerry Hoffmann

hitman47

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Equalizer

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Vampire Owl :: So much violence in the human world. Can’t we watch something else rather than this movie with a gun on the poster?

Vampire Bat :: But I thought you liked violence.

Vampire Owl :: I like a violent me, but not people shooting each other. In the end, we will fail to know who shot who and I have to hit my head on the wall hoping for some vampire enlightenment to pour into my brain lighting it up.

Vampire Bat :: Then, there is Bollywood with this weekend’s movie Happy Ending.

Vampire Owl :: No! Shoot me, thats better. Get the tickets! Get the tickets!

Vampire Bat :: But you don’t like the violent stuff.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t want to die a slow, painful death with some Hindi romantic movie showing for nth time whatever they have doing for years.

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

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Bollywood anymore. If you talk about it again, I am deaf. If you talk about it twice, I am dumb too.

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

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) has retired from his busy job as a secret government agent and is living his life in peace after the death of his wife. He spends his time working in a hardware store and giving no clue to anyone about who he has been. He becomes friends with Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) a trainee whom he helps to become a security guard, and then there is this teenage girl whom she regularly sees at a tea shop he visits. The girl is Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenage prostitue who reveals her real name as Aleena, is mistreated and beaten up by her pimp ending up in the ICU – Robert decides to take things into his hands, and to give the girl who loves music and books, a better chance at life. He goes to the pimp Slavi (David Meunier), and offers him 9800 dollars to leave her alone. But as he refuses and uses more foul language about her, Robert kills him and his goons. But the leader of this Russian mafia group, Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his right-hand man Teddy (Marton Csokas) to find and eliminate the killer, and here starts another game.

The defence of The Equalizer :: This movie seems to be trying more to be an origin story, and therefore a few problems of the same can be avoided with ease. There is the perfect setup for the sequel which seems to be everywhere on the news. The movie has some nice dialogues, and the action is not overdone – our protagonist doesn’t try anything too much. He just does what he does the best, and continues to excel at it. There are some nice, beautiful shots from the skyline, and the cinematography keeps catching our attention – there is the stylish sequences which are used too; they are all so good, and makes things interesting when things cool down. There is also that dark and gloomy atmosphere that runs through the movie – check out for our protagonist’s attack at the pimp’s room and the warehouse, both of them done with so much of stylish violence and innovation, even as the latter might be a bit too long for some people. The cast also contributes nicely, and the message to do the right thing is strong in here.

Claws of flaw :: There is that drag in between, and makes one wonder why it was so. There are empty slots where something could be used for fill the space. The story is also rather predictable with the hero going on for having revenge due to something bad done to his younger friend, and being awesome as he is, becomes successful in the same – just like John Wick; that was a revenge seeking former assassin for the dark side, while this one being a similar person who was working for the government. It is something we have seen a lot of times in a different manner. There is a lot of violence out here, and some of it might seem unnecessary for a few people. Even then, there are lots of things which seem to be missing, but I would blame the censor board here for that – they should have got rid of some violence. Well, on television, I have seen the scary parts removed from horror movies and bikini scenes removed from James Bond movies. So, I am not surprised even though I understand the difference.

Performers of the soul :: Denzel Washington – sometimes just that name is enough; there are not many people who can doubt that. He goes through The Equalizer with so much power, as if it could be another vigilante movie franchise starting from now. It is once again impressive how he works – this man with a gun, do people need a lot more? Well, there were two in 2 Guns, but one will do here. He is going to turn sixty this year, not something that we can discover without wikipedia. From the first movie I watched with him being part, The Bone Collector; through my favourite movie, The Book of Eli and now standing in The Equalizer; nothing much has changed. It is always great to see Chloë Grace Moretz – she brings such charm to the screen like nobody else. Unfortunately, even as she is undoubtedly the heroine of the movie, our girl is there only for a few minutes in the beginning, and for an even shorter time in the end – it is a case of sadness which we are left with, along with her smile in the end. Marton Csokas is an interesting villain too, just not getting enough of it.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s opening has these lines from Mark Twain – “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. It is the same thing that the protagonist is trying to achieve in this movie – to use his skills to use for the common man. Even in the beginning, we can see that he is trying to help people as much as he can, without going the violent way. For the same, he later transforms, just like the books that he reads – from the retired old man who reads The Old Man and the Sea, through the hopeless knight in Don Quixote and in the end to The Invisible Man who goes through the city unnoticed, and helping the innocents – a Ghost Rider kind of figure who gets rid of the evil souls without any superpowers, but with the skills reminding one of Liam Neeson of Taken. Somewhat Bryan Mills, John Wick and Jack Reacher, this is another guy who has too many skills.

How it finishes :: The end result is that unexpectedly The Equalizer turns out to be better than John Wick, and it is not something that I had expected. Both had their own problem with a certain amount of drag, and the problem of not evolving for the century enough. But even in the troubles, The Equalizer is the superior one; even as there is no doubt about the fact that John Wick will win the box-office battle here, and the credit would go to Keanu Reeves who is more accepted that the big action protagonist more than Denzel Washington, thanks to The Matrix, Constantine and Speed. Gone Girl and Interstellar still stays in our theatres, the latter with so many shows. Dumb and Dumber To won’t pose that much of a challenge though, with lesser opinions and a lot lesser screens. Do give this movie a chance, and as far as you want an action movie without too much of mindless and dumb action, but still doing justice to the genre, this will be the right choice.

Release date: 21st November 2014 (India); 26th September 2014 (USA)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Marton Csokas, David Harbour, Bill Pullman, Haley Bennett, Vladimir Kulich, David Meunier, Alex Veadov, James Wilcox, Mike O’Dea, Anastasia Mousis

thequalizer

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Captain America II

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Our own superheroes :: Its been some time since the 2012 superhero movie The Avengers got so much more attention than it deserved and ended up being the highest grossing movie of the year and the third highest grossing film ever. Surprisingly, it even impressed the critics, and even as it was a well made fun ride, I wondered how it managed to do this much just by having some superheroes fighting aliens in the middle of the city. Unlike what some of the fan-boys might say, I have felt that Captain America: The First Avenger was the best superhero movie from Marvel, a title which it takes over from X2: X-Men United and to which Ghost Rider had a distant claim only to be devastated by the sequel. As Thor came so close and yet spoiled the opportunity to be the best, and so did X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I have to admit that Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier is my new favourite Marvel superhero movie, and that title should be safe unless The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes up with something too good which is rather unlikely. So this sequel is better than the original and all the other movies in the franchise – that should inspire you to read this further!

What is it about? :: Captain America a.k.a Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is called to rescue the hostages from a SHIELD ship under the control of Algerian pirates in the Indian Ocean. There he notices that the mission of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is different from that of him, and she is collecting data from the ship’s computers. After telling Steve about the secret weapon of SHIELD to destroy its enemies and a failed attempt to decrypt the data, Fury is attacked, and dies after telling Steve not to trust anyone and giving him the USB data. Hunted by the SHIELD, Captain America and Black Widow got to join forces to find information about the data and stumbles upon a supercomputer which tells them that HYDRA still exists not as itself, but within SHIELD, like a parasite, and Captain had never put an end to it during the Second World War. As they say “if a head is cut off, two more will take its place”, and this time they are choosing a different path of war. With the help of Falcon (Anthony Mackie), they have to stop HYDRA from deploying their secret weapon through SHIELD, but the question remains if they can take on the Winter Soldier, a metal armed expert fighter who is more of a ghost entity coming out of nowhere.

The defence of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier :: One of the best fights of the movie is in an elevator, and there are so many more to follow. There is Captain America taking on the advanced machines of SHIELD, and when the Winter Soldier comes up, it goes to a new level, and Black Widow joins the party at regular intervals to boost things up, and so does the new addition – Falcon. The action sequences continue to be strong, and the final battle is incredibly stylish for a movie which was turning into more of a thriller. But the movie doesn’t go on to become that action movie which is expected from any random superhero who possesses the skills that the normal human being lacks, and instead it becomes an espionage action thriller which keeps the viewers guessing, and you can see that the twists are delivered with great punch. The whole conspiracy thing is wonderfully managed, and there is a certain amount of skill involved in doing the same. The dialogues are also cleverly done, and the witty lines are sure to stay in our minds for a very long time. Well, Captain America often becomes self-defending, and you will know about it when you watch.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has turned so much into the thriller genre that the usual superhero fans might find it a little strange. Captain America has turned himself into more of a super soldier rather than a superhero, and it will please a lot as well as disappoint a few, such is this genre. But, yes he is super and there is no denying that. It has successfully become better than its predecessor too, something which only X2: X-Men United could achieve as far as Marvel is concerned. Its intelligence should upset a lot of people who are looking for mindless action too, but those who were looking for stupidity like Dhoom 3 and Krrish 3 are going to be too disappointed. Yes, bring your brains with you – don’t leave them at home like you did while watching some superstar Bollywood movies. Except for the Dark Knight series, I wonder if the viewers are ever expected to use their intellect much in a superhero movie, but now we know that superheroes have moved out of the world of children almost completely. Now they make us thinkers along with entertaining the crowd.

Performers of the Soul :: Chris Evans once again excels in the role of that superhero who is ideologically superior to any superhero of Hollywood. He has become part of the same character and most of us would tend to forget that he was once the Human Torch in Fantastic Four and its sequel – this would always be the role that he would be known for, and this movie gives him more possibilities, and he holds on and improves his performance as the super soldier. When surrounded, he asks “Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”. Scarlett Johansson remains awesome as Black Widow, and she has a great role to play in this one – she even has some nicer lines like “I only pretend that I know everything” or “Was that your first kiss since 1945?”, and its time her character gets a movie of her own, may be with Hawkeye by her side. Sebastian Stan proves to a fantastic choice for the Winter Soldier too. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome as usual, and the one thing you will know about his car after taking a lot of hits is that the only thing that is left working is the air conditioning, so says the computer. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon comes as another boost to the movie. Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter comes up in small, yet significant roles which we can hope to be developed later.

Soul exploration :: Unlike the other superheroes, Captain America is not just a superman or any similar person. He is an idea, something which is more intellectual and not physical, standing for truth, justice and honour. His battles are not against the usual villains who come to take over the world or commit crimes with superpowers or manpower, as his enemies are ideologies, of hatred, fear and slavery; it used to be HYDRA earlier and it continues to be same opponent, but with an outer layer of coating. He is also different that he has to fight war in another age along with belong to that era. Thor and Superman belonged to other worlds, but one can always go back and the other has been here since childhood. But Captain America is a man from the past, frozen both physically and mentally to awaken in another age, nothing less than an alien world. But he adapts and maintains all that he had in the 1940s. The world he comes across as an alien is the same which we have now, as we are fed with lies as truth remains hidden. Forget the wars and the media response; forget the lies concerning politicians and elections; we are told that someone lands on moon or there is water on Mars – and we are forced to believe the same or we are labelled as inferior people – nobody needs proof of that.

How it finishes :: There have been two types of superhero movies, one from The Dark Knight side and the other from The Avengers side. This movie seems to be placed right between them, and at the same time, having a life of its own. This movie has brain, and a lot of it, as it keeps itself out of both the mindless action with the light side as well as the fear generation of the dark side, keeping a bit of both, but not enough to be labelled. The result here is that the latest movie from Marvel can take on both sides, even as I doubt if it can be as successful as any of the two. Captain America is not your typical superhero, and the only thing that should work in favour of him in coming up with a great box-office should be the fact that this is vacation time, both for schools and colleges – most of them to be exact. We watched the movie with a huge crowd and that world was almost full, something which was not visible in the case of the first outing of the same hero or the random wanderings of the rusty vain man in iron. You might want to watch the first movie too so that you can enjoy this without doubts, or may be keep someone who watched it on the next seat. And you may want to choose 2D if there is that option to skip 3D!

Release date: 4th April 2014
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Hayley Atwell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

RED 2

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There are a few movies which reduce the chance of White House Down doing a good job, and among them the one which is the most similar in what happens on the screen, is RED 2, which can take out the take-over movie with its big cast. The closeness in the Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb ratings might also help in creating that big doubt in the minds of the viewers which is affected by Bruce Willis to attract them to this one, and I would say that even without that drag, this holds a clear edge over its only “same genre competitor” around here. You might already know that Red means “Retired Extremely Dangerous”, as a group of retired secret agents try to make an impact when forced out of retirement by several reasons, the most prominent one being them or their best friends being hunted to be shot at sight. While having such a title thrown towards the protagonists, they do the same designation of being extremely dangerous, a favour – they do what they do the best and what they were always expected to do throughout their lives. They react in such a way that the tables are turned on their enemies, and in the process, saves the day. This one will not have Karl Urban as William Cooper and that is a shame. But the entry of Anthony Hopkins, Lee Byung-hun and Catherine Zeta-Jones would add something else.

So we know that “the best never rest”, and once again Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is hunted and prevented from leading a normal life. Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) is still by him as the old best friend who saves Frank after faking his own death. Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) is with them, and after falling for Frank’s adventures, she is now eagerly looking forward to more dangers which could make her feel special. The gorgeous Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones) getting back to his life, and being mentioned as “Frank’s Kryptonite” makes Sarah jealous and possessive and she herself tries to get into the middle of the action. He is supposed to be hunted, but actually supported by Victoria Winters (Helen Mirren), and is followed by Han Jo-Bae (Lee Byung-hun) who has taken the contract to murder Frank. In their mission, they come across the information about Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) who would be needed in for their objective to be a success, but is currently in a lunatic asylum. Frank would need to bring them all together, and know who is on his side, how can be with him, and who might end up trying to kill him in order to survive the battle, thus creating a complicated situation, nothing that a retired, extremely dangerous man can’t solve again.

Bruce Willis continues with what he has been doing in the best way, and the triangle featuring him, Mary-Louise Parker and Catherine Zeta-Jones makes the funnier scenes of the movie. Jason Statham’s Frank Martin might be proud of this Frank, the older and the funnier one who has got no car to race. This Frank is there beating up people quite a lot, shooting them and bombing a lot of the world around him. Do they get stronger when they get older? Some might wish to ask so, and Die Hard fans would have to wonder if this is the series which might take Bruce Willis away from them in a crisis of retirement. There is no need to be doubtful though, as this is one man who might be retirement-proof in his real life too. Mary-Louise Parker’s character has only gotten funnier in this sequel, and comes up with some of the funniest moments, sometimes with the dialogues, but mostly just with the expressions. Her character makes so many attempts to prove her better than the possible weakness of her man, and by doing the same, she does the stranger things which adds to the fun element.

Catherine Zeta-Jones would have been not that easy to recognize for her earlier fans, of The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, and seems to have qualified for being still extremely dangerous, doesn’t matter if retirement is knocking at the door. A few memories do keep coming back from those days of early movie watching experience in the absence of the big screen. Those were the days, and she was there on the small screen. Despite of the loss of her older self, she still competes with Helen Mirren with the screen presence, but not with the action sequences. Marvin Boggs’ character continues the job John Malkovich did in the first part, but unfortunately there is no pig this time and we miss him saying “Frank, I never thought I’d say this again. I’m getting the pig!” But, the man still carries the movie forward with his funny one-liners and those comic scenes which never look out of place. There might be no occasion that won’t suit him, and if there is any character who can use a spin-off movie, here is one.

Lee Byung-hun remains the Storm Shadow in essence here too, and may be even as the better ninja than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its sequel which was released earlier this year. He remains the character that he has been in that movie and as the assassin, he continues the same. Anthony Hopkins, our own Hannibal Lecter makes a personal impact on this one, not that big as The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal or Red Dragon, but still something that comes as a pleasant, evil surprise of good quality. Being in the lunatic asylum is one of those common things, and here there are more characteristics for him, of qualities strange enough to be another man of surprising variations. In many ways, these two were needed, as the movie is too much inclined to the funny side otherwise, not that they are completely against contributions to the comic side, but there is the need for the twists, thrills and awesome action. This is Expendables with such a huge cast, but in many ways funnier and the comic side being very effective, if not too effective. May be that movie could have been called with something similar to being retired, and extremely dangerous again.

Even as the movie keeps scoring with its action sequences and the funny dialogues, there is that feeling of the imitation of the first movie, and the predictability keeps on getting higher and higher. Even the climax is too predictable for the usual movie watcher’s liking. As our characters are played by those celebrities who are basically more royal than the others, they keep the viewers interested, but this kind of movie needs its own dose of little shocks, and RED 2 does have it, but not that powerful a thing of the royalty’s standard. There is no situation where the audience is supposed to be terrified or feel for the heroes. There are frequent one-liners which clear any doubt in the minds of the viewers, and with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins guiding the gang, and Lee Byung-hun following the path in a majestic manner, there is the reconquest of whatever is lost, and whenever the movie is about to drop down in its level, something new comes up, once in the form of Catherine Zeta-Jones and at another occasion in the form of Anthony Hopkins; the rest is well managed by the one-liners which drops a comic bomb which handles and stabilizes the situation.

RED 2 is stretching its arms towards that weekend box office victory here, but surely on a limited level. The movie edges over White House Down, and can pretend to be competent against Pacific Rim, Despicable Me 2 and Man of Steel as this is the new entrant in the game and the reviews are not completely out yet, and Turbo belongs to an entirely different genre and attracts another type of viewers. There was still hope for more, that is for sure; RED had come up with the right platform of origins which could have been exploited further. At the same time, it had also used up a lot of resources, and the need of this sequel was for creativity, which has successfully arrived partially. But when one is looking for fun, there is hardly any opportunity to care and think more, and RED 2 gives that unlimited fun which is not without the flaws list. If this movie belongs to that genre which is pure entertainment, you are welcome to forgive its flaws. I would say that I have forgiven and forgotten the same and got into that roller coaster ride of entertainment which this movie hides behind its pillars of old age. May be it is time for most of you to give it a try, and the rest can wait for the year has a lot more in store.

Release date: 19th July 2013
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, David Thewlis, Neal McDonough

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.