Edge of Tomorrow

edgeoftomorrow (2)

Vampire Owl :: So it is about going to the past again and again, right?

Vampire Bat :: No, there is also the thing about changing past and thus alter the present. Ask Wolverine.

Vampire Owl :: What about planting an idea in a dream which also alters the present? Or try it the H.G. Wells way?

Vampire Bat :: That would need scientific equipment. For now, I think the driver of this bus also thinks that he can go back to the past and start it over when he dies. This is too fast.

Vampire Owl :: As there is no alien invasion yet, we should be safe; unless the aliens started with his house this time instead of the United States of America.

Vampire Bat :: I can only hope that aliens look like mutated vampire bats.

Vampire Owl :: I would prefer demons.

[Reaches the destination].

What is it about? :: The humans and the alien forces called Mimics have been in war for quite a long time now. United Defence Forces (UDF) has been created for the same purpose, and with new inventions and some inspired leadership, the humans have been able to score some victories. William Cage (Tom Cruise) is also asked to join the fight, but when he disagrees and tried to get himself out of it, is deprived of his current military rank and is sent to the military base of the Heathrow Airport to take part in the upcoming battle against the aliens. But when the attack begins, he realizes that the creatures know about the attacks and the plans of the human opponents. He is also killed, but not before destroying a Mimic and getting coated in its blood. Then he wakes up at Heathrow Airport yet again and goes though the same things again. He goes through the same things and gets killed again only to wake up again at the same time. He tries to tell the soldiers that the invasion will be failure, and also tries to save a few of them, but the restart continues until he saves the life of Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) who knows about it and asks him to find her when he wakes up. From here, he is turned into a weapon, and the objectives change.

The defence of Edge of Tomorrow :: The movie has absolutely no drag, as it keeps itself to action throughout. The action sequences are impressive, and so are the special effects. The aliens are nice creatures and are mostly a form of spider-octopus hybrid, closer to the creature from the water. The first few attempts in this reset are actually funny, and there are some indirect comedy that the movie has. The movie never losses its power to entertain and never does it get much emotional. The absence of the horrible emotions which comes in each and every alien movie actually becomes a plus point here. The movie has awesome electronic devices, not only with the stylish gadgets including weapons, but also the sight of the airbase which has lots of interesting stuff around. The movie also reminds us of the flick called Source Code, but in a nice way. Edge of Tomorrow has an idea, and it might not have been the most original ones, but it is surely interesting and the way in which they have presented it needs a lot of appreciation. This is a science fiction and an action thriller and remains so throughout, and now that is often more than enough.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is based on the Japanese All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka about which I know less about. I might just try to read a translated version some day, so as to know if it is any better than the movie itself. The movie has a better first half than the second, but the latter is not far behind. The climax fails to be special as the movie though, but that is mostly because the expectations were too high considering what kind of a ride the movie had provided us with. The ending is also less interesting, and it also leaves room for ambiguity. There is another awakening that happens in the end, and we are not sure why it actually happens or why it happens that way, but the bigger question will be about the state of aliens which is also kept in the dark. It was indeed on the weaker side, and the weakness of the movie comes in the end. There is a certain amount of laziness that comes in the end and leaves with a little less satisfaction. Didn’t this movie deserve more? A better ending could have made sure that the movie had started well and finished nicely too, but this one wants to win in a super over and lets see if they have made it so hoping to make a possible sequel in future. But that is just a minor thing.

Performers of the soul :: Tom Cruise comes up with a great performance right here. Well, he is surely the reason why most of the people actually decided to go into the theatre, and it is a fact that he is one of the popular Hollywood stars around here. We remember seeing him in the other alien invasion movie which was Oblivion, going back to 2013. It was rather emotional and slow while this one rarely has the time to work to work on such stuff as it goes on with all the action right from the beginning to end, and it is safe to say that he excels in both. He still seems to have the energy that he always had. The more interesting character here should be Emily Blunt as Sergeant Rita Vrataski or “the Angel of Verdun” and “the Full Metal Bitch” as she plays a very special soldier, a heroic figure in this one. Her character is not just strong, but also smart and selfless as the super-soldier who massacred a huge number of aliens and brought her people close to victory. She doesn’t just look like a beautiful soldier who goes on destroying the aliens, as she steals the show when she gets into the act. From that shot when she is taking push-ups, we can be sure that she means business.

Soul exploration :: Live; Die; Repeat – now that is something that reminds me of my golden age of computer gaming. It is what we all do, in a game as we load the saved game and go back to where we had that opportunity to save our progress. We can see the parallel in this movie also, as the protagonist go back to a certain point instead of a long way back, and he tries again and again to alter the situation doing different things or rather doing things in a different way. He is desperate to change the fate of the world each time he goes into battle only to die again, as we gamers attempt to clear a stage of the game. The one game which this movie reminds me of, should be Crysis and its expansion Crysis Warhead. It was the game in which I lived, killed aliens, died, came back and killed aliens more than any other. I can also recollect a certain amount of similarities in the looks of the aliens, especially of the alpha creature. So, it is indeed the game mode revisited without control over anything on screen. For me, it was Crysis, and even when it was not it, still there was the game element in it. Not everyone has a life to loss to regain it again, only a gamer does; unless you are one mythical creature.

How it finishes :: Edge of Tomorrow has already managed to get some nice opinion from the critics and the audience – I shall also agree to the same. This should also be a great time to release this one, with Maleficent weakening significantly, and the multiplexes having The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and X-Men: Says of the Future Past giving the competition. Bollywood’s Holiday doesn’t seem to impress much, and the Malayalam flick Bangalore Days is not for the same kind of people. May be this is the science fiction movie you have been waiting for, and I have heard a lot of positive opinions about this one from the sources which I consider to be of great value. There is Tom Cruise who can bring a lot of audience to the theatres without playing a superhero or fairy tale character, and this support that he has, will be significant in its success here. I would recommend it as the movie of the weekend, as well as the second best of 2014 after Captain America II: The Winter Soldier. With a better climax and ending, Edge of Tomorrow could have got a clear lead.

Release date: 6th June 2014
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Riley, Kick Gurry, Dragomir Mrsic, Jonas Armstrong, Franz Drameh, Masayoshi Haneda, Tony Way, Noah Taylor

edgeoftomorrow copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Raven

theraven (3)

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore — While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door”. These are the first few lines of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, The Raven, which we had to study as a part of our American Literature syllabus for the partial fulfilment of the Masters Degree in English Language and Literature. Even as I found the process of doing seminar about Emily Dickinson more fascinating in this particular paper, my favourite work of that one paper was undoubtedly this poem about this black creature. Later in the poem, we have a better sight of the magnificent dark bird: “In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door — Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door — Perched, and sat, and nothing more”. The poem created such a great supernatural environment with the raven’s unexpected visit to a man who is mourning over his lost love.

Even as this movie takes the title from the same poem, and carries over the same darkness which the poem had in itself, the movie is not directly related to the poem, as it rather fictionalizes the final days of Poe’s life until his mysterious death instead of taking the poem’s imagery forward, and at the same time, gives our poet the powerful image of a crime solver. The use of the image of a literary figure can always be interesting, and as this one poet is considered, he was that big an influence in our question papers that it was quite difficult to take a decision to skip his poems – for that would leave us with not much to score in the exams. There might be many differences between a crow and a raven even as they look the same; as we consider the two movies The Crow and The Raven, they also belong to two different worlds, united only be the presence of murders, deaths and the dark side in both the movies. As the 1994 supernatural action movie is concerned, it remains one of my favourites, but I can’t say the same about The Raven with its investigative thriller atmosphere even as I have my own reasons for liking it.

The story takes us back to the nineteenth century, when Poe (John Cusak) lives his life filled with alcohol claiming to have used up all his literary abilities, and the only other thing he is interested in is the love for one woman, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve). He is loathed by the lady’s rich and influential father (Brendan Gleeson) though. Meanwhile, a group of cops find two dead bodies of a woman and her daughter, and detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) finds out that the crime resembles a murder in the short story The Murders in the Rue Morgue written by Edgar Allan Poe. As more incidents follow, Poe is called to the police station and is asked to help the cops in solving the strange case. At the same time, Emily is kidnapped by the killer who asks Poe to publish a new story. The murderer keeps leaving Poe clues until he gets to that one final clue which would reveal what has lead to this situation, and also that mystery behind the killer should be removed. But as Emily is buried under the ground in a coffin and time keeps running out, Poe is left with less to think and more to act.

I might have to agree that this didn’t work as well as I supposed it would, even as John Cusack and Luke Evans have come up with very good performances and so did the villain who shall not be revealed here. Cusak plays the man who invented the detective genre and blessed us with the best of the supernatural, with so much ease, even as the question remains about how much the character in the movie has deviated from the original person except for the mustache. May be the movie tried to bring too much of the characteristics of the man into one movie which is a suspense thriller with an unnecessary romantic background, thus making it a little too much of a mixture. Poe might not have liked it, but as an admirer of his work, I do; and there is no suspense about it. Alice Eve once again gives her best along with being out of the league, making her way towards the character as she should have. She plays more of a lover of Poe as a poet and his ideas, and plans to marry him despite of the disapproval of her father; and this is one love story which doesn’t have a good beginning or a happy ending.

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! — Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted — On this home by Horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore” – the lines from the poem matches with the depiction of Poe in the movie too, as he accepts his dark imaginations in the movie, and asks if imagining is also a crime. He is shown as a man with no money or fame left, even as The Raven remains one of the most famous works. He finds solace in alcohol as well as his love, and attempts to publish articles instead of fiction which both the editor and the admirers want, and would be something which can bring him fame and fortune again. As he says “Nevermore”, we can see that his character mostly reflects the same man who is the protagonist in his most famous poem. He is there to prove his lines, “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted – nevermore”! So as the title is concerned, we can identify the man more with the protagonist of the poem of the same name, which is more Poe than anywhere else.

The Raven has its own collection of blood and gore, with even a huge mechanical axe-like device used by the murderer to cut a man into two halves, as the machine swings to and fro like a pendulum coming down towards the victim second by second – from Poe’s another work, The Pit and the Pendulum. The whole atmosphere is full of shadows and darkness creating the much needed creepy world. The villain is someone who knows Poe’s imagination more than he himself does, and his characters and stories too well. There is even that question about Poe inspiring those murders. The inspiration for the movie might be many slasher movies which came earlier, that is for sure. There lies the agony, and the sadness which arises due to the fact that this is just a random fictionalized story with lots of areas which could have been better. There could have been further logic and strong connections, but The Raven has taken the easy way out, with three of the skilled leading actors and an addition of the dark atmosphere supported by blood and gore, trying to work the mystery of a literary figure and his works. It does work in parts most of the time, but as a movie which requires that standard of the poem whose title has been taken, there should have been a lot more.

Coming from the man who directed V for Vendetta this is surely a let-down. May be the movie confuses itself a bit about what it tries to achieve, but this is still a good flick for the literature enthusiasts, especially fans of this one poet and his works, even as there can be disappointment about the changes in depiction of the poet, and the lack of anything amazing in the story that made him a crime solver. There was a lot more scope to this idea of the fiction which has been explored here. I liked this movie because I could connect it with Poe’s works which I had to study and it was easy to remember more about him with this movie, even as it would have helped me much better if the movie had released in 2011. This movie is my nostalgia, of my time reading Poe at college. I can’t say the same about others though, and for those who don’t know Poe or haven’t read any of his works, this is better to be avoided. The other choice for you is to read his works, something which might be a tough ask in a world which is ruled by fiction of no real quality. Still, I would suggest you read the poem The Raven, about which I managed to write a lot in my exam, and a reading of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel with it might prove further interesting.

Release date: 9th March 2012
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: James McTeigue
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jimmy Yuill, Kevin McNally, Sam Hazeldine, Pam Ferris, John Warnaby, Brendan Coyle

therav copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Smurfs 2

thesmurfs2 (3)

There are times when people think that a sequel is necessary for every successful movie. Such sequels often go bad, as they are more of repetitions and imitations of the first – but this one manages to hold its ground, not with full strength; just marginally. It has forced itself on the viewers, and has often succeeded with its funny dialogues and the incredible cuteness which it has developed, with an inherent goodness and a little stupidity which gets overshadowed by their aversion towards evil, unlike the minions of Despicable Me 2. That should make this the perfect movie for kids, as there is the moral side which is strong, and everything else goes on depending on this side of the good. Well, The Smurfs 2 is highly dependent on what the first movie had given the viewers, and in the process of making this sequel, it has copied almost everything from The Smurfs and has presented it in a slightly different manner. The advantage that we achieve with the same is that this one is an even better story in morals, and it is further preachy in nature as it goes on and on. There is divine justice as well as the poetic justice, but not without the actions from our little and bigger heroes does fate and destiny dare to intervene.

The Smurfs 2 is a collection of escapism and childish fantasy. It has done enough to have almost every child drag their parents into the theatres to watch some cute little blue creatures. They have also tested the same on the older one very well, as there is a certain amount of nostagia of childhood that seem to affect the grown ups too, and if this was released before Despicable Me 2, the scope would have been higher. They had taken on New York earlier, and now they are at Paris. The little blue creatures have tried their best, but lacking in bringing innovation and originality, this movie had to try and bring a smile to the face of all the viewers, and once again, the result is effectiveness of a lesser scale. If one didn’t watch the first movie, the probability of liking this movie might even go higher. There is a good explanations of the things that go on with this world even in this movie. There are so many occasions when a predecessor’s shoes are good enough, but shouldn’t they have tried to remove the dirt in the same instead of throwing more on it, in a huge variety of colours? May be colourful dirt is good – at least its not bad or evil, and there is a little more time to be sure about that.

Years have passed after the group of smurfs got sucked into a gigantic vortex which brought them to the new world of New York City. Smurfette is shown to suffer from an identity crisis, as she is having nightmares about betraying her fellow Smurfs and getting them captured by Gargamel. At the same time, the Smurfs are preparing a surprise birthday party for Smurfette. But as nobody talks about her birthday and keeps it a secret, she feels that they have forgotten the day and don’t consider her as one of them. She feels that she is neither here nor there, as neither the daughter of Gargamel or Papa Smurf, created by one and given the life of a Smurf by Papa Smurf. She had been an instrument to distract and trap the Smurfs, but now she is claimed as one of them, but the doubts in her mind never ends. She wanders away from the village thinking about the same. Meanwhile, Gargamel has become a famous magician in Paris, but he is running out the Smurf essence and thus losing his magical powers. With his new Smurf-like creations, who are called the Naughties – Vexy and Hackus, Gargamel plans on opening a portal to the Smurf village and get the Smurf formula by kidnapping Smurfette who joined the other side. But he doesn’t have the magical powers to create a portal big enough for him to enter, and he sends Vexy who goes through it and successfully tricks the first Smurf lady through the portal as she wanders around alone.

The Smurfs are alerted, and Papa Smurf uses his magic to create crystals that would allow some of his best Smurfs to go back to the human world, but through an accident, Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity ends up travelling to the modern world rather than Brainy, Hefty, and Gutsy. The four Smurfs arrive in the apartment of Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) right after the birthday celebration of his son Blue (Jacob Tremblay) who has been named after them. They also meet Patrick’s stepfather Victor Doyle (Brendan Gleeson), whom Patrick hates and wishes to keep away from his family. The Smurfs join with them as well as Patrick’s lovely wife Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays) and goes to Paris where the sorcerer has set up his abode. The team manages to sneak through the backside of the magic arena of the villain, but fails to find Smurfette. Meanwhile, she joins with Vexy and Hackus in fun, and almost forget the Smurf life. Gargamel and his cat Azrael try their best to get information out of the Smurf lady, and at the same time, the human gang and the Smurfs tries to get through to the secret lair of Gargamel. In the battle for Smurf identity and Smurfy existence, there is a lot at stake including the Smurf lady as well as the whole Smurf village.

So, this movie running just a minute more than its predecessor, is no entity which can be considered different from the first movie. Its twelve percent approval rating at the Rotten Tomatoes comes as no surprise, even as that is a little harsh considering how much goodness this movie carries, or at least attempts to hold in itself. Its best moments are recreated from the first movie, and it fails to exist as a thing of innovation. With the large number of animated movies releasing these days, this half-an-animation might be a little repetitive in a less interesting manner. We already saw The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Epic and Turbo making impact this year, and this movie tries to impress kids in the same way. But how much can the kids take? They have a similar movie coming up each month which gives them their good time in the theatre. It is us horror fans who have less for our liking. We are fed with one movie, once in five months or so, in the form of The Conjuring, and that too should have been cut so much that there is that new question about what the horror really is. I guess we don’t count anymore, and the animated movies are the new, profitable trend – if the superhero movies don’t have anything to say against that claim; ask our beloved Man of Steel who lost his underwear in his effort to match a Dark Knight who rises.

Smurfette is the central character of this movie, and the second significant one is Vexy, voiced by Katy Perry and Christina Ricci respectively, bringing the whole new sisterly Smurf relationship to the movie series. The best moments though, belong to Vanity Smurf and Azrael bringing good laughter through their pride and fall. Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick Winslow has a lesser role to play in this sequel as his character looks more hammered into the middle of the world as a misfit, and Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow has even lesser to do this time. Brendan Gleeson as Victor Doyle brings some fun right into the middle of chaos. Hank Azaria as Gargamel continues to keep us interested even as the villain seems to be more of a clone of what he was in the first movie. But we can’t avoid Gargamel and his sorcery that easily, as the man continues to be the villain that he was in the first movie. Azrael the cat could have had a little more screen-time to make the most out of it. The movie should have found something smurfantastic, but it takes the easy way out, as the movie starts in an ordinary manner and ends in a predictable manner. Whatever happens in the middle tries to hold this world together.

Even with some good 3D effects, The Smurfs 2 fails to get rid of all those things which might have added negatively to the first movie. But all the good things are still there. With The Conjuring on the other screen, this would attract the families with kids, that’s for sure. But the fact remains that Pacific Rim, The Wolverine and Man of Steel haven’t disappeared yet as expected. Therefore, the choices are there, and this movie has to strive hard. The big shock might be that there is the little presence of Despicable Me 2 somewhere around. But The Smurfs 2 is new and they got style, colour and a cute and easy to pronounce title which rhymes with Surf Excel, our common detergent powder which has attacked the television screens without mercy. With its ordinary moral story which keeps you smurfed, smurfized and smurfined, the question would remain if they could have waited a little more and come up with a better sequel of excellent content. The little blue creatures have more potential than this, and we can only hope that the third movie of the series would fulfill it. Until then, one has to adjust with this movie, and I am sure that it won’t bore you to death – it doesn’t make you feel awesome either.

Release date: 31st July 2013 (USA); 4th August 2013 (India)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson , Jacob Tremblay, Nancy O’Dell & a big number of voice actors including Katy Perry and Christina Ricci

thesmurfs2 copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.