Dark Phoenix

What is the movie about? :: In the year 1992, when a space mission seems to be in trouble, while facing a solar flare, the X-Men lead by Professor X a.k.a. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) decides to help the humans, and once again prove that mutants and humand are to co-exist. But it is a risky mission, as the plane is ready for a journey into space. But the team including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler a.k.a. Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Storm a.k.a. Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp), Quicksilver a.k.a. Peter Maximoff (Evan Peter), Mystique a.k.a. Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast a.k.a. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and Cyclops a.k.a. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) go on the mission despite having the doubts. The situation seems under control as Nightcrawler’s teleportation and Quicksilver’s high speed seems to be enough to finish the job.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But it is revealed that there is one more person to be saved, and they decide to go back. With Jean holding the space shuttle together, Nightcrawler takes the remaining person out, but is unable to take Jean back as the solar flare covers her. But he is able to recover her body after that, and surprisingly, she wakes up. The X-Men are hailed as heroes by the public, and the bond between humans and mutants gets to be stronger. But there is something different about Jane after that incident. Hank finds her energy to be beyond comprehension, crossing all borders. Scott also feels that there is something different about her. At the same time, Raven is not happy about Charles leading the mission to a point from which a return becomes near impossible; she feels that making a future with the deaths of mutants won’t be fair.

And what more is to happen? :: Jean seems to unleash herself at a point, and collapses. Unable to get into her head for the first time, Charles uses the Cerebro machine, and with it at high power, finds that the bad memories that he had shielded in the mind of Jean, are now out in the open, and she won’t be the same again. With memories of her distant past coming back to her, Jean leaves, and the X-Men follows here – they won’t have anything positive to find there though. Her actions there would turn both mutants and humans against her, with no chance to return to the previous state. At the same time, certain aliens from outer space have also reached Earth, searching for the Phoenix Force within Jane. They are lead by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) who serves as the leader of this shape-shifting alien race, called D’Bari. This would lead to time running out for Jean, before she could be herself again.

The defence of X-Men: Dark Phoenix :: The action sequences surely score with this movie, and so does the visual beauty. The action on the train in the final moments are among the best so far in any X-Men movie. There are also a few others which offer something similar. The special effects are used well, and we see the mutant powers being used nicely. CGI is used nicely by the movie, as the desire for another superhero movie after Avengers: Endgame has been provided in the form of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The path that the movie takes seems to be interesting, and ready to bring further twists, even though this might be the final movie of this film with these characters in the main roles. The premise is a wonderful one for sure, even though the movie doesn’t really use the same to the best of effects. It has also released in India earlier than the original release date, and it should serve the movie to get better collections here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is unable to prove to be better than X-Men: The Last Stand which was the movie which dealt with the same story thirteen years ago, and still managed to better at that time. It was not a fantastic movie in any way, but it had somehow managed to do better, not just with its story, but as a whole – it is only with the final moments of action that this movie holds more power. The titular character is also not explored in the right way, as her being all-powerful just goes too much beyond the border, as we get tired of the same quickly. We also know what is to happen with this tale, and how the same person does the job in the end is ridiculous – this is where the previous Dark Phoenix movie served better, with weakness in between the all-powerful; think about Superman without the idea of kryptonite there, and it is easier to understand. The movie also slows down in the middle, and the emotions go weak on a number of occasions.

The performers of the soul :: Sophie Turner from the Game of Thrones fame, has been an interesting addition to the film series – we see her continuing her form at a number of moments, but not as a whole, as things get repetitive. We wouldn’t get to see her as we had seen her in the popular television series, with the avatar itself being different around here. It would have been nice to see her as the earlier and more vulnerable Jane better. Jennifer Lawrence is completely wasted in her short stay there, and there is nothing that she does except for coming up with some unnecessary dialogues. The one who comes up with some of the best moments is Michael Fassbender, who shines as Magneto once again, rising above his good friend and leader of X-Men – James McAvoy who plays the leader is a weakened figure going too strange this time. Alexandra Shipp and Nicholas Hoult come up with pretty good job here. Kodi Smit-McPhee is memorable, while Jessica Chastain and Tye Sheridan are not.

How it finishes :: There is something about X-Men that we have always loved, going back to the childhood memories of watching that animated series. There is not much of a reflection of the same around here though, as the level has certainly come down from the predecessors X-Men: Days of the Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse – it can’t even stand against the single mutant centered tales which came earlier, like Deadpool, Deadpool 2, The Wolverine and Logan. But it is enjoyable up to an extent, thanks to the action sequences where the mutants go for the full scale display of their powers. We are not going to miss the X-Men after this as we already miss Wolverine, and so lets watch a movie of the series one more time, and enjoy the good parts, while we will also have The New Mutants releasing next year as an extra addition. It will have Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams as young mutants, making it something to look forward to.

Release date: 5th June 2019 (India); 7th June 2019 (USA)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Split

Vampire Owl: Sometimes, I feel that I am more than one person.

Vampire Bat: Due to you being unable to keep your promises, we have all felt the same on one day or the other.

Vampire Owl: You are taking this the negative way.

Vampire Bat: I remember you telling us that you were not you, but another you when asked about coming for the vampire exercise.

Vampire Owl: But that was not me, but a shadow of me.

Vampire Bat: You just found a few reasons to run away from everything; that is what happened.

Vampire Owl: I am telling you that all of you haven’t met my most dominant side yet.

Vampire Bat: And that will still be you.

Vampire Owl: My zombie minions clearly understand all these.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why they wouldn’t try to agree to your theory about yourself, as it is told to your own brainless minions.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with special ghee roast].

What is the movie about? :: Three teenagers, including best friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), along with another girl Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), who were part of a birthday party celebration, are kidnapped while returning home. They wake up only hours later, and they realise that they are held in captivity by a man known by the name Dennis. This particular person is actually one of the twenty three personalities present in the mind of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). This man, who was a victim of childhood abuse was having a case of dissociative identity disorder, and has been treated by his psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). The girls soon meet Patricia, which is actually the same person dressed in women’s clothes, and is just a little nicer than Dennis. They also meet Hedwig, who is the third personality, a nine year old boy who is looking for some fun and is afraid of Dennis and Patricia.

So, what happens next? :: The three girls discuss how to escape, and while Claire wishes to pounce on the man and attack him, Casey keeps thinking about a smarter way to get out from there. It is Claire who tries to escape first through the ventillation, and she does get to an open space in the building, but is caught by Dennis who takes over from Hedwig and chases her. She is taken to a room, and is kept there in solitary confinement. Marcia also tries to escape, when Patricia is in charge, but she also finds her, and threatening with a knife, gets her into another room alone. Meanwhile, Casey also tries to make a radio call, outsmarting Hedwig, but that idea also doesn’t work, and Patricia gets hold of her, as she gets locked up again. These two personalities, Dennis and Patricia, who have replaced Barry who was the earlier dominant personality, are planning present the three girls to a rumoured twenty fourth personality, known only as the Beast – can the girls escape before that?

The defence of Split :: After you read the synopsis and summary of this one, you know that something different is in store, and the same has been provided here by M. Night Shyamalan who continues his run after the lesser hyped thriller, The Visit. The movie goes on steadily right from the beginning, and we soon comes to know what is awaiting us as the flick progresses. There are some nice twists, and a fine finish in the end, which makes way for a sequel which could be even better than this one, so much is the potential there. Our director is one man who knows how to keep the balance, between the psychological thriller and the supernatural thriller, and the same is revealed here. We already know how good he can be, and this is the movie that once again proves the same for the non-believers who go on this very interesting journey that will keep you guessing what is coming up next with the unpredictability of not just the antagonist, but also the protagonist who has her own big flashbacks.

The claws of flaw :: Split, with its variety in treatment, might not be the movie for everyone, as M. Night Shyamalan makes the difference again while not following the usual path. With this kind of a premise, people might be expecting something else, but not with this man at the helm. Split, even when there exists not much of a fault, will have to face those strange female reviewers who will also keep looking for the quantity of clothes that the female characters are wearing – something which doesn’t even come close to being anything by even Bollywood standards; well, some reviewers from India are the kind of people who are busy praising Hindi movies, and haven’t seen many movies from the other languages, and don’t intend to. Lets hope that the sequel to this movie is kept away from them as much as possible. Maybe, some people would have also wanted this to go faster, and with more action to go with the same – the need to see all those personalities might also be there with a few viewers.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, it is James McAvoy who leads the way here with one man and his multiple personalities – he shines with each one of them, and you are going to notice the Hedwig one more than any other. He is certainly the one person who can handle even more than this number of people inside him, and the character or rather the characters within the character are very much safe with him; maybe the Oscars next year can try and deserve him. Anya Taylor-Joy is one amazing talent as she continues her run, from The Witch, through Morgan and now into this movie – we see the character through sadness and a depressing past. The two other girls, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula are not too far away in performances either, as they also leave a mark – both of them surely have a long way to go; more memorable scream queens should be there in store for us. Maybe they could have gotten to battle the rumoured beast a lot too.

How it finishes :: Releasing here a little bit late compared to its United States release, M. Night Shyamalan had showed signs of his return with the interesting thriller which was The Visit, and this one even does better. Unlike After Earth which was one terrible movie without doubt, his three negatively reviewed movies before that were not that terrible when we look at it overall. Lady in the Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender were all movies with so much scope and could have been there, even though they fell short. The same doesn’t happen with Split, as the force remains strong with this one, considering how it progresses, and how the cast is used to maximum impact. This year might be having the best thriller very early itself, as Split has all it takes to go the distance, being quite the improvement from The Visit. M. Night Shyamalan is back for real, and you can tell that to the other movie fans in the neighbourhood! If you liked this movie, also go for 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Release date: 20th January 2017 (USA); 24th February 2017 (India)
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff, Kim Director, Lyne Renée, M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

I

i (2)

*** I is not just another movie as some critics have judged in the form of the random revenge thing coming to the viewers again. We all know that it has received mixed responses from the audience and critics alike, but let’s not fall into that trap to think twice about watching the movie. I might not be as good as some other movies from Shankar, but it is different, and deserves to be seen and treated with respect that it deserves. It is nothing like we see in Indian Cinema, and the way in this one entertains is different and effective. I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes on to become the highest grossing Tamil movie in Kerala, considering the number of theatres where it has released and the number of shows present in each of the multiplexes.

✠ I has got its plus points:
The awesomeness of Vikram: You are introduced into a pure Vikram show here, and personally I feel that I might never see another actor like him in Indian cinema during my age. Even as this is an entertainer with those masala elements, one can’t stop admiring how great a performer he is, in all roles – he keeps making us feel for his character even when the hero is more than a normal man, beating up too many people. Like the most common words which are used in this movie, one has to wonder what stands above everything; a long way above this movie – and it is Vikram. It is this one actor who raises the level of the movie along with himself, and imagining someone else in this role is nothing less than a crime and a sin of the highest level.

The beauty that is Amy Jackson: This lady makes an impression in her way, and there are times when the Magic Mirror chooses a less expected person as the fairest of them all (Tamannaah Bhatia is the one who comes to my mind whenever I hear that) – here it is Amy Jackson who is stunningly beautiful and even cute at times, redefining most of those occasions when the same words were used in the case of a few other actors. She gives aesthetics a new meaning. This is indeed a big role for her, and amazingly suitable; something that we realize very early. There is nothing special for her to do though, and that is understandable considering the nature of the movie and how much it is dependent on Vikram. Lets give some applause to Suresh Gopi too, who also has his moments.

The stunning visuals: The visuals of China’s outskirts are mesmerizing here, and almost everything happens in relation with the natural beauty during those shoots, and it is a big boost to the movie. This is even better with the visuals of songs. It is like another special world for the viewers brought with big splendour. The graphics are also advanced, and the make-up and costumes can be considered as an even bigger boost – they are so good that you will raise your expectation a lot for any other movie. The definition of an entertainer changes here, and you are are surely going to ask for more after this, instead of deciding to watch some random action and romance. These visuals on the screen increases the need to watch this on the big screen even more. The background score nicely supports the visuals.

Fairy tale and its narrative: The way of narrative is something that I enjoyed a lot. I have always enjoyed these non-linear narratives, and it rightly suits the movie here, even as I doubt how the usual audience would take it. The fairy tale elements also has the charm, and there is the song which seems to a clear tribute to The Beauty and the Beast, even as in totality, our hero is no beast, but someone deformed. That is one awesome song on the screen, just like the one in China. There is the certainty of love thriving against all adversities, and that bad guys getting their due as part of that poetic justice. I is that kind of a revenge-seeking fairy tale with its dark side, as you might be familiar with if you have watched Maleficent. It also has its hunchback of Victor Hugo who deserved to be treated better and in another way, its Frankenstein monster – another deformed person who looks for love.

✠ Where it misses:
It misses out in the second part of the first half, and once our hero and heroine reaches China and finishes their first song, it drags and goes on and on with the usual stuff. Yes, the plot itself is a revenge story, but the latter part of the first half can’t even present things in an interesting manner. Couldn’t some elements be less predictable? The movie is too long too, and they should have cut the romance a bit. There are also too many advertisements shown in the movie – yes, there was the need for a few, but here we see too many; still enjoyable ones there. The beast is also limited to the song, but then the question remains where it could come in when the movie plot is considered. But I had expected a lot more from the beast. The action scenes should have been lesser in number along with the songs. But this movie is beyond all these limitations, as the positives that I mentioned runs through with extraordinary power.

*** The movie becomes a very good lesson on how an entertainer can be made without being dumb and ridiculous. Bollywood can use this for ideas, and learn how not to make a Krrish 4 and Dhoom 4. Anniyan actually managed to be better, years ago, and therefore, I wouldn’t consider this movie as something which changes anything. But I is a movie that could be watched for great entertainment, as well as the great performance that Vikram has put into the movie here. The humour also works and there is a powerful emotional connection that is maintained, which strives to focus on the power of true love that is beyond appearance and money. Don’t go with the reviews, but go with Vikram on this one. Here is a big salute to the actor on how well he has tried and made his transformation, and how much strength he has brought to an ordinary revenge plot. I have given the movie a rating, but I cannot be judged by ratings, and the right method is to watch it in the theatres.

Release date: 14th January 2015.
Running time: 189 minutes
Directed by: Shankar
Starring: Vikram, Amy Jackson, Suresh Gopi, Upen Patel, Santhanam, Ramkumar Ganesan, Mohan Kapoor

I

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.