Glass

Vampire Owl: So, have you watched the Unbreakable film series?

Vampire Bat: I have heard that it is better known as the Eastrail 177 Trilogy.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that nobody has really heard about this fanchise having such a strange and complex name.

Vampire Bat: I have watched Split, which was a very good movie, and I don’t remember much about Unbreakable.

Vampire Owl: I do feel that some memory of that movie might be needed to follow this one.

Vampire Bat: Well, I can remember something, but as far as Split is concerned, memory works better.

Vampire Owl: It is quite natural though, considering the fact that the first movie released in 2000 and the second in 2016.

Vampire Bat: I watch so many movies that my memories are very quickly replaced – I often forget a movie which I watched only a few months ago.

Vampire Owl: You are suffering from a case of movie overdose.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and there is no treatment for that. Even lock-down couldn’t do much.

[Gets a British cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Nineteen years have passed since the Eastrail 177 train wreck, and David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a superhuman who survived the wreck is not working as a vigilante who is often called by the media as the Overseer while continuing his business with his son, Joseph Dunn (Spencer Treat Clark). Elijah price who called himself Mr Glass remains confined to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane, after David had reported him to the police, as the one who was responsible for that train wreck which killed everyone except David. Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) who has twenty three plus one distinct personalities formed in him after he was abused as a child by his mother during his childhood remains in action, as he kidnaps four cheerleaders (Diana Silvers, Nina Wisner, Kyli Zion and Shannon Ryan) and keep them chained inside a warehouse, just like he did earlier with Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her friends who were to be sacrificed to the greatest entity inside him.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Kevin keeps the girls chained at all times, even though he does have the manifestations of different personalities at all times, none of them ready to rescue the girls from their bondage. It is then that David comes across Kevin, and understands that he is holding a secret, which is none other than the missing young girls. He gets into the warehouse and unchains the girls, only to come face to face with the personality of the Beast. While the girls escape, the two superhumans fight, only to fall in front of the police force, and has to surrender. Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), an experienced psychiatrist specializing in delusions of grandeur visits them at the mental hospital where the two are admitted along with Mr. Glass. She tries to make them believe that they have no superhuman abilities, and they are just a little stronger than the rest, and might not be stronger than the strongest and the most muscular men in the world. But Mr Glass will have other plans. Who will succeed in achieving their mission?

The defence of Glass :: As one would expect, the performances of the three actors playing the three main characters, the protagonists, the superhumans – this keeps the movie at a higher level even when the flick slows down and makes one wonder if it is not going to reach anywhere. The action sequences here are kept simple. The idea keeps growing within the movie, and if you watched the previous two movies, you are going to be more interested in the proceedings here. The ending is the highest point of the movie, and there is one twist there which you should have guessed, but most probably you might not have – these final scenes show the mastery of M Night Shyamalan over the material, on what concerns the comics and the superheroes, very much unlike your usual superheroes. There are a few moments in this movie, which later turns out to be smart and masterful acts, but in the middle, you won’t know them to be that good. Then, in the end, you ask for a sequel.

The claws of flaw :: As the third movie of the story, and with the three main characters already established, you would probably expect this to be a tale which ends a good v/s evil story, but this one more or less continues that origins story rather than doing anything else. There is also the absence of action for most of this movie, and when you are having a superhero movie here which is not Brightburn, you will be expecting full action or thrills, but such an option is not here. The movie has a lot of dialogues, and most of them are in a place without colours – inside the mental asylum, but some of it are totally unnecessary. After the initial fight, there is a lot of time spent at the talks rather than anything else, and it often makes the movie slow, unlike any superhero movie which you have ever watched. This is a movie which you cannot watch as your regular superhero movie, because it looks for meanings rather than any kind of heroism. This is not the superhero world you dreamed about.

Performers of the soul :: Glass depends heavily on its performances just like its predecessor Split did. James McAvoy once again leads the way, continuing the form with twenty three plus one distinct personalities. He shines in different ways as personalities alter. Most people from this part of the world might have known him from the X-Men movies, the last one being X:Men: Dark Pheonix, a film which didn’t make that much of an impact as one had expected it to. But related to movies like X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Days of Future Past, you know that he has been there raising the level of the movie. But none of them matches this character that he plays here. Bruce Willis is back in action, with some action sequences, and you do want the Die Hard star to do that – here he also has an emotional touch to his character. Samuel L Jackson begins ordinary, but as the movie goes to its end, we see the change, and he is glorious in those moments. Anya Taylor-Joy, the girl from The Witch is the Beast’s girl with a beautiful serenity running through her, while Sarah Paulson is good.

How it finishes :: Glass thrives on James McAvoy, Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson, who plays the three superhumans with augmented abilities, but the viewer has to note that it is not a regular superhero movie, and if one falls into that kind of a trap, this is not going to be that interesting. The common view pertaining to all those superheroes we have known not just through movies, but also through comics and cartoons, reaching their zenith in the recent years with those Avengers and Justice League movies collecting all of them and presenting them to the audience as spectacle on the big screen in 3D. Changing this viewpoint is essential when watching this movie, or the film might just end up changing it by adding a certain amount of realism to the whole thing. Glass is surely a movie with a difference and as we look at M Night Shyamalan’s movies which we have watched and liked, he has been a master in that, whether it was this movie’s predecessor Split, or the surprise fun which was The Visit.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: M Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, Diana Silvers, Nina Wisner, Kyli Zion, Shannon Ryan

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@ 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.

Sin City II

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Vampire Owl :: Didn’t this release long ago?

Vampire Bat :: No, there was a delay. I think the Indian censor board was concentrating heavily on this for many days, and they have finally managed to cut a lot of this movie and released it last Friday.

Vampire Owl :: They waited all these days to release this on Onam?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, as Onam has colourful flowers, they would balance it with this colourless movie.

Vampire Owl :: I wonder how much they would have cut.

Vampire Bat :: I would guess, half of it. They have very good scissors, and from what they have been doing, I shall not dare to doubt their skills.

Vampire Owl :: So, they want us to watch this movie on the computer, right?

Vampire Bat :: That should be the reason. Otherwise, I see no reason why they cut too much and still give a movie the adult rating. May be they can have a 21+ and 25+ rating for the movies too.

Vampire Owl :: My question is about that dame for whom it is to kill. May be we can collect blood for her too.

Vampire Bat :: Lets watch this and find out about her then.

[Gets the ticket].

What is it about? :: Sin City 2 has three stories, all of the happening at the same place and having relation to each other. One is the tale of Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who beats Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) in game of cards and the loser is not really happy about it. The powerful man wishes to get back to Johnny and his new girlfriend Marcie (Julia Garner) for humiliating him in the game. At the same time, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) is seeking vengeance from the same man who had killed the man he loved. She lives an alcoholic life, being a bar dancer and at the same time, hoping to murder the evil man. The third story has Dwight McCarthy (Josh Broslin) attempting to free his former lover Ava Lord (Eva Green) who seems to be in a terrible relationship with her husband. In the middle of all these, there is Marv (Mickey Rourke) who seems to be part of the whole thing like the blood is to the veins. As things happen in Sin City, there will be blood, death and more vengeance.

The defence of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For :: This sequel should be a much awaited one for the fans, and it is nice to have one after nine years after the first adaptation of Frank Miller’s comics on the big screen. This was even a longer wait than one had to do for 300, and as some people might have forgotten about the same, a few others might have been still eagerly waiting. The return of the franchise is with a more powerful cast, even as Bruce Willis’ presence is minute. The style of the original continues in this movie, as there is lot of violence even as most of them are not really shown directly on the screen (can’t comment that much on the sex and violence and the censor board has been working its scissors so well with this one). The colourless world and the slight infiltration of the colours that we see in this movie, is something that I like a lot. There is a visual beauty in this absence of colours and the sudden appearance of some of it at certain point, catching our attention; may be its nostalgia or the love for such variation, for I am not sure.

The claws of flaw :: I haven’t watched the first movie of the franchise, but it seems that the original was better, as said by a number of people I know. There are problems in the story for sure, at moves on without any aim, and the inter-linking is not that awesome as one would think that it would be. There is the way in which it is presented, and the absence of colours might not be good for most of the regular viewers, and I could feel that in the theatre. The movie also dares to slow down, and at the same time not give enough for the viewers to ponder about. The action could have been nicer too, and the protagonists should have had more to do rather than moving along in predictable lines. At the end of the movie, one ends up wondering if he or she has got enough of the idea behind this movie, or did most of it go with the scissors of the censor board – it is clear that they have cut again and again in this movie, and the same has affected and disfigured this movie further at this part of the world. May be this can work better without those scenes cut, but can’t say that now.

Performers of the soul :: One can only accept that he loved Eva Green on the screen like no other. She is sensational as well as sensuous on the screen as the woman who seems to be at the centre of Sin City, creating enough to make that name sound truer as well as better for the human ear, for she was that good there. She is a wonder case of twisted evil here, and as Powers Boothe is excellent also a powerful villain, Eva takes over in a more serene manner. Jessica Alba was also impressive, but her score is more with her stunning looks and expressions rather than the rest. Mickey Rourke is perfect fit for this role, and one ends up clapping for him more than any other. Josh Brolin is also very good, and one has to admit that he is also a nice one for this movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is okay, but that story had nothing much. Rosario Dawson and Jamie Chung looked not that much needed for the tale. Bruce Willis wanders around as a ghost, for which there is no appropriate reason. Among the rest, I would vote for Juno Temple, even though it was rather a small presence.

Soul exploration :: Sin City 2 successfully creates its world, the monstrous city of sin and crime. The images and the colours that it uses catches our attention well, and helps us to relate well with the crime universe which exists inside the movie, and this time it is in 3D. There is too much evil going on in this movie, and the mood for the same is nicely created, the feeling is that we are really watching a very dangerous and crime infested place. It is a world to be transported into, and if you don’t want to feel that the same, it is to be avoided. There is a certain amount of admiration required for this genre as well as the action movies as a whole, and otherwise you might not want to watch this. It might be easy to choose not to watch this one if you prefer the Bollywood masala movies full of colour and music. You needn’t watch this movie if you didn’t like the first movie either. I have known many people expecting something else and watching this movie, not really liking it. I would say that you have to know what you are going to watch on the screen.

How it finishes :: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For becomes that comic on screen like not many movies have achieved before except for may be its prequel, but I haven’t watched that yet. You can watch this movie just for its variety in style and the cast, especially Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke and Josh Brolin. It is not often that you will manage to watch such a movie, and considering the reactions and the box-office collections of this movie, as well as situation at the theatre, I would wonder if such a movie will set foot at this part of the world. There is the need for colour in this part of the world, and especially this is that week of Onam which demands colourful flowers, but this is more of a black and white movie with slight colours in between. One has to wonder if anyone other than me would watch a non-Malayalam movie for Onam; even I doubted the same myself, but decided to go for this one as timing of the show as well as the situation was more suitable for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Release date: 5th September 2014 (India); 22nd August 2014 (US)
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Eva Green, Jaime King, Jamie Chung, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher Lloyd, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Meloni, Alexa Vega, Julia Garner, Lady Gaga, Marton Csokas, Jude Ciccolella, Crystal McCahill

sincity2

@ 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.

White House Down

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So here is the fight we have been talking about for a long time, as the 120 minute long Olympus Has Fallen has finally met its archenemy, its evil twin brother who is longer by 17 minutes. The ruler of the underworld compared to the shorter one’s claim over Mount Olympus, has arrived in the form of White House Down. As I had already written about Olympus Has Fallen (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/olympus-has-fallen/), and it was the first one to be released, it is that movie which I would consider the prototype for the list of White House attacking movies which can get a little longer as long as this one is not annihilated in a battle here against the opponents RED 2 and Turbo, along with already existing Pacific Rim and Man of Steel; not to forget the movies in all those languages including Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi. The former had no tough competition when it was released though, with a few weeks delay after the United States release. The delay has followed this movie too, along with the image of white building going down and only one man standing as a barrier in front of the ultimate success of the terrorists. It had fallen earlier, and now it is down, and there is no doubt about the fact that the first of the two had the best title, but the second has got the name which can connect better with the audience and stays close to action.

So the seat of the President of the United States of America needs to be saved again. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) was the former secret service agent in our last adventure of this type and here, John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a U.S. Capitol Police officer looking to be part of the secret service. John already has trouble connecting with his daughter Emily (Joey King), and believes that he can impress her by getting a job with the Secret Service and also by taking her to the place, but fails in the interview is conducted by Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a former college acquaintance of his who knew him to be disrespectful to the authority and irresponsible, unable to stick to what he is doing and thus not good enough for the job. He tells Emily that there is still chance and they join with a tour group around the White House. Soon, there is a bomb explosion which separates the father and daughter, followed by a group of armed mercenaries taking control of the White House. The President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) is in trouble, and we know that his only hope is the man who was refused his chance to be the saviour once, and the action begins in a few minutes. The situation is pretty much similar to Olympus Has Fallen, as one might have figured it out by now.

That fictional protagonist portrayed by Bruce Willis in Die Hard, John McClane doesn’t really seem to leave this world of the one-man shows, as here comes another one of too similar a name, John Cale – what he does is no different either. McClane’s marriage and the relationship with his children in a constant state of crisis, and his disregard for authority keeps him close enough to trouble – not the kind of things Cale can disagree with. Here, we have the typical Die Hard protagonist who is just at the wrong place at the wrong time, and continues to be there so that he can save the day with almost no outside support at all. Being the lone wolf who is the right person to do it, the two Johns are one and the same, and if this new John is a cheap imitation of the old, that is for the audience to decide. Strangely enough, Channing Tatum has to battle Bruce Willis in the multiplexes here for the supreme position, as RED 2 is surely attracting enough people, and the elder legend is surely the more popular and the more talked about figure in this part of the world. It is louder and less interesting than the first four Die Hard movies most of the time, but it is better than the fifth movie of the series by a long distance. This could have been Die Hard 5, if Olympus Has Fallen can’t be the same, and even if that position is abdicated, there is always the chance to call itself Die Hard 6.

6.5 out of 10 in IMDb and 48% rating in Rotten Tomatoes for Olympus Has Fallen, and 6.3 out of 10 in IMDb and 48% rating in Rotten Tomatoes for this one clearly describe these two movies, and gives a vague report about how close their impact has been, and how much such a theme can affect the audience and the critics. It is a good thing that they are three weeks apart in their attack on the brains of the viewers, as they could have even destroyed one another if released close enough. Gerard Butler’s 300 + Gamer effect would surely give the former an advantage, but Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman would not stand a chance against the invisible fan club of Jamie Foxx which is bigger than it would seem to be from the surface, thanks to that strange effect which Django Unchained had created. This is how these movies come so close to being the same on impact. But our new movie seems to be struggling to fight against this week’s wave as well as the existing waves. There are less number of shows, and there is the need for a twist of fate for this one to bring the fight of money to its twin brother. But it has already proved that fight is on, even as victory is not within sight; the battle shall go on even as the causalities won’t be that interesting for this side.

This is closer than the similarities between the volcanic eruption related Volcano and Dante’s Peak, and the Earth-bound asteroids showing their power in Deep Impact and Armageddon. Even as Gerard Butler wins the battle as the hero and gets all the attraction, Channing Tatum does a great job in this one, but the movie remains lesser than him and Jamie Foxx. The two actors are undoubtedly bigger than the movie as they do defy the movie in what they do and so does the whole world inside the movie in one way or the other. The whole scenario might be stranger in this movie, but Foxx handles it so well that even the situations which seems to be going the wrong way turns out to be funny and interesting – those moments when Olympus Has Fallen takes the back seat. But there is still too much about his character, and there is too much of a strange ruler in the person, may be being closer to Django than the President of the United States. But people do love that kind of a President in the movies, that is for sure. Joey King’s character is cute and interesting most of the time, but annoying at times; there is no controlled environment out there and in the middle of such a hostage situation, that should be more than just agreeable, for kids no longer remain kids these days, and Lord of the Flies was never belonging that much to fiction.

Jason Clarke does manage to make a powerful impact at the same time, and being the stylish evil guy who takes over the place, he comes with some very good fight sequences with the hero. His presence would seem to extend the world from beyond the two-man show. James Woods works his villainy as the mastermind behind all these next. This movie also loses in violence, something which was not expected in the beginning, as right from the bomb explosion, something nasty was expected to come up, but it goes on more as destruction for the sake of demolishing rather than creating that impact of shock in the senses. There is no shortage of action sequences though, and the attempt to escape with a presidential limousine, the fall of the airplane and helicopters and tank v/s rocket launcher battle, they all make the destruction list go high. With the former Duke from G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Django of Django Unchained has held this one from falling deep, but its success in its genre won’t reflect in its box-office collection. That episode of the life of this movie is with the audience and until now, from what can be read, there is trouble for this one in catching up-to Olympus Has Fallen, or even most of the much expected movies of this season. These are bleak times indeed, but this movie has wasted its chance and therefore, blaming the audience or other movies is not the thing – a little adjustment might have saved this one as it is a good addition to its genre.

The movie lacks in a number of things compared to Olympus Has Fallen, as the most important thing is patriotism, and the next but almost equally important thing may be in being clever – there has been more silliness in this one, but there has still been enough control between the two sides of mindless action and saving the world. Emmerich’s works have been interesting, from Independence Day to The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 and my personal favourite, The Patriot. But he had to deal with being there second, and that would have been difficult. To add to it, the movie’s need to match up with the other White House take-over would have created a situation from where there is no escape. This movie is thus a wasted opportunity on one side, and a work which could live even with all its flaws on the other hand. It is on this dual nature that this movie can work on, but that won’t help its cause. It needed something special, and it has managed to achieve the same only through its leading actors, but even in their case, this is not their best performances. When White House Down looks up from its world deep down the underground, Olympus Has Fallen might be looking from the top of the Mount Olympus which it had created from its success at the box-office, and in the OHF v/s WHD battle, the war of the down-fallen houses, we have only one winner, and its name starts with O.

Release date: 19th July 2013 (India); 28th June 2013 (United States)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Michael Murphy, Joey King, Rachelle Lefevre, Nicolas Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Lance Reddick, Barbara Williams

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

G.I. Joe II

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There are only a few things which bring people back to their childhood on a magic carpet made of collective unconciousness and the dreams one carry over to adulthood on the clouds of absolute wonder. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was in no way a failure in doing the same, but with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it has come closer to being one of those few things. The first one had all the uninteresting characters who tried to be smart, with the exception of Storm Shadow and The Baroness. The second one would surely be more interesting even as the total improvement is just too slight to be considered improved. There is nothing extraordinary in the movie, but the way in which they have treated the ordinary is significant. Here, one can see the power of the old G.I. Joe toys which forms the essence to every kid who has grown up now, living their childhood through these toys. This is the hidden strength of powerful memories which lie beneath the movie and seeks to be called upon from the abyss. From the seemingly ordinary world of the grown ups, this one takes the life of the adult back to the past and then back to the future with its power of the “toy” characterization which is more of a powerful raising of the toylines.

It would not be a big surprise for many fans if it is said that The Rock/Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock runs the show around here. The Rock has always been coming back with power. With him, is the hero of the movie Die Hard, which makes this movie caught between a rock and hard place – that place which is hard enough to die. The role of Bruce Willis is smaller, but still very important and effective in the movie. He still gets to hold many guns and shoot enough people to make an impact. Meanwhile, The Rock is the leader, after the death of Duke (Channing Tatum) – that moment of dead Joes which calls for retaliation over the retaliation of the Cobras over the Joes. The Rock remains the WWE Champion and here also he reigns in what he does the best. He is the new addition to the list and he has done so much to his character which makes Roadblock the undisputed leader and the champion of all the Joes of this movie. His character has made his intentions clear right from the beginning, and remains the nearly unstoppable character till the end, still not deprived of the chance to be beaten up and almost getting killed; without that there would have been no fun inside him. He is also the one who gets to have the final touch in saving the world from total disaster and a Cobra commander with that wonderful destruction plan.

Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow should come next, and not Snake Eyes or Flint. He is that character without whom nothing is possible; there would be an eternal void in the lives of both sides also himself – on this occasion, that absence would cause more disaster to the Joes rather than the Cobras. He was undoubtedly pure evil in the first movie, something which I would have questioned without even a single proof. The question of good and evil is twisted in this sequel, and the roles would become more complicated with a few revelations. He is still not a person to be the right part of the Cobras nor the integral part of the Joes. His truth lies somewhere in between, which is not that comprehensible to both sides. For this time, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) figure it out more than the rest as they are all driven by the same motive, the quest for revenge and the need for finishing off what they started. The battle between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow which looked good enough to continue until eternity would come to an end here, not with one of them dead, and surely not with both dead. Still, the revenge belongs to Storm Shadow, my favourite right from the childhood, and that is something I would be glad to remember.

Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye, has more to do other than being the love interest of Flint and being the attractive one whose beauty supports the missions in a less significant manner. She is the tough person, the shooter who shoots – well, what else should the shooter do is a question pretty relevant, but she is the accurate one around here; and may be even tougher than most of the Joes out there. She finds out that someone is impersonating the President and also uses her beauty and charms for moving themselves closer towards the ultimate destination – in that casem she scores on two occasions. Still, she is no femme fatale. Yet, her speciality is mentioned as Covert Operations in the toy series. The way in which this character has eclipsed the weaker Scarlett from the previous movie is a powerful sign of what to be expected of a possible sequel. For now, there is no suitable replacement for this one.

Flint is more or less Duke himself, or may be the new Duke with a new girl friend who is taller and stronger. It was actually not possible to see the difference in the beginning. Snake Eyes remains the same, faceless and not that interesting a character, even as there is always a certain amount of hype surrounding him. The addition of Jinx to his team might have given the character of Snake Eyes, a chance to be a little more interesting, but not too much. Jinx is never a weak character, but pales in comparison to Lady Jaye, but both are of a better status than Scarlett of the first movie. Ray Stevenson as Firefly makes that powerful impact right from his entrance though, on that bike of destruction which would make the Ghost Rider proud. It should be the most stylish moment of the movie, as long as some shots of The Rock and Adrianne Palicki can be considered a little short and not of style, but of brutality and beauty respectively. He continues to be the one perfect villain any hero wishes to fight, until he gets to face Roadblock for a second time. Still, could have had more character development.

The story continues where the first movie had finished, even as there is no mention of a number of characters from that one – Zartan has impersonated the American President and the G.I. Joes are framed for stealing warheads from Pakistan and are almost exterminated, before Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye manages to survive and make their way back to the United States from their mission in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Storm Shadow and Firefly rescue the Cobra Commander from the maximum security prison. Snake Eyes and Jinx successfully capture Storm Shadow while recovering from his injuries so that he can answer for the murder of his uncle. But Storm Shadow reveals that Zartan is the murderer and he was only a victim of the situation. The three join forces with the Joes in a final attempt to stop Zartan from his attempt on total domination with the help of the Cobra Commander. He invites the world leaders to a summit where he forces them to submit to him by destroying London and threatening to cause further destruction. Once again, it is upto the same people to save the day, and this time, it is going to be a little more fun.

G.I. Joe is many things at once, other than being a movie and also close enough to being a video game – and the most powerful of them all is nostalgia. I had my first contact with the G.I. Joe action figures when I was in the Primary School, and that was the reign of Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander and a few others whom I might fail to name now, but will still remain the earliest of the best choices. This movie has provided a return, and with its superior action sequences and okay 3D scenes, there is a peek into the past which not only brings back the action figures, but also the world that I missed. It is a well-made time machine which can make its way to the past if directed in the right way. It is something which generates more subjectivity in a grown up kid than most of the other things. The more significant question might be if it takes anything back to that world along with bringing something into the present – these questions make G.I. Joe immortal in the mortality, and closer to the adult world of total uncertainty.

Release date: 28th March 2013 (USA); 29th March 2013 (India)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, Lee Byung-hun, D.J. Cotrona, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Arnold Vosloo

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✠The Vampire Bat.

Die Hard V

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We had a hostage situation in 1988 on screen; that was what Die Hard brought with itself – one of my favourite action movies of all time and may be something superior to most of the rest when I first watched it. When they took over the airport in Die Hard 2, this sequel was not something which could have failed, and it didn’t. Actually, there were moments which made this one seem to try and overtake the first. Then came Die Hard 3, which did the exact same thing as Transporter 2 did to The Transporter – it brought the level of magnificence down from the firmament; still distant from being the worst imaginable sequel, for it became a lesser thing only due to the power of the first two movies. It took the series twelve years to come back as Live Free or Die Hard – not a bad return for something which seemed to have disappeared long ago. It was quite certain at that moment that we hadn’t seen the last of the series, and here we have Die Hard 5 a.k.a A Good Day to Die Hard. May be John McClane is forever; like the T-virus. But a virus infection would make another bloody story – and the same is the case with an immortal McClane; therefore, lets keep that away.

John McClane is back; this time in Russia – the man with his own style of facing everything, from near-death situations to almost-life situations. He is the man who is always in the middle of a crisis, whether it is a complicated family problem or an extremely simple shoot-out which might even include helicopters and fighter planes. He is specialized in being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and it might be something hereditary. The one thing that the viewer could be sure about, is that his character is not that far away from a superhero status. He faces his villains with more confidence than the superheroes – one simple thing which has to be kept in the mind before watching Die Hard V. Well, there are not many other heroes of this calibre – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand made me think about intentionally feeling otherwise, but one has to come to the conclusion that McClane belongs to another genre; a similar but another area of interest. Our men of the video games, featured in the movies Hitman and Max Payne, might have a shot in future though.

The scene has shifted to Moscow. The name of the villain is Yuri Komarov – brings to me the memories of Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece Doctor Zhivago with its Yuri Zhivago and Komarovsky. Other than thinking about these two names which strike a similarity with this one name, there is nothing to be mentioned about this movie related to the Nobel prize winning novel and its critically acclaimed movie adaptation by David Lean. No, that was not even a comparison but something which caught my attention. The other villain is named Viktor Chagarin, not a name I am going to identify with some other character of another work. It is in the battle between these two, that the hero’s son Jack McClane is caught. John McClane who has not been in touch with his son for years, makes a visit to Russia to get him out of trouble – or in his words, he goes on a vacation to Moscow. Jack had ended up in prison, but escapes with Komarov. Even as the father and the son never seems to get along in the beginning, they slowly begins to work together and solve the problems.

The son turns out to be a CIA agent (his father would address him as the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey), and his undercover operation would turn out to be a lesser twist than what Komarov and his daughter Irina would have to offer for them. Fortunately, there is no twist over twist, like that one Bollywood movie, Race 2. Still, to take the story to another level (or to a rather strange idea which could have surely taken a better twist) action would soon shift to Chernobyl, Ukraine; uranium, radio-activity and weapons. There are some twists and betrayals coming close to creating an impact, but most of the time, what saves the movie is its action scenes and the one-liners. There is enough fun and mindless action to keep this running. The McClane family problems would surely be solved in the end. Jack had said that “We’re not a hugging family” before the first half, and one knows that the family is united by the end, and can guess that “the hugging problem” might be solved before a possible Die Hard VI.

Bruce Willis stands strong as John McClane. He has continued with his “everyman” action star who seems to be drifting away a little from that status. One can only remember K’naan’s lines “When I get older I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag” – something which I heard a lot during the 2010 FIFA World Cup run of the Spanish Armada; McClane is just like that, for he has only got stronger with the age. But the doubt might be about his strength and durability which is reaching a new level with experience of old age, something which reminds me of those video games. That takes away that one McClane of the earlier century who was more vulnerable and prone to errors. The age has surely caught up with McClane, but it has had a positive impact on him, both physically and intellectually. Expendables 1 and 2 had similar impact on its characters, and as Bruce Willis played one of them, one has to doubt if that element has stayed as far as Die Hard V.

Yuliya Snigir looked extremely good out there, but should have had a better role to play in this one; as her character couldn’t create that impact which one of the two main antagonists could have come up with. The twists basically revolved around her, and there was mystery surrounding her until the Chernobyl scene, but the character of Irina had to suffer due to the action-centered approach to the movie. Actually, one has to wonder what has been there for the character in the movie- a typical one-dimensional character, a title for which even John McClane might be suitable someday. There is nothing wrong in the performances, but there is that absence of three-dimensional character elements throughout the movie. Even among these confusions, the best part of the movie was undoubtedly the car chase scene, and it powers the experience from the beginning. The end-action might be a little overdose, but still not unsuitable for the style of the movie. The support of good special effects make even the ordinary action scenes worth a watch.

We surely miss that skyscraper; also that airport. But still, Die Hard series would stay alive. When John McClane says that he is on vacation, it is a fact. This is a vacation which is slightly below the quality of the other movies of the series. But still, there are gun-shots everywhere, and high-speed car chases end up in heavy destruction of property, and even the flying machines join the action. So, in simple words, this is his vacation. If that means that there is even better to expect when he is out of vacation, that would be quite a treat. Die Hard IV was an improvement from Die Hard III and therefore, there is no shortage of expectations which can be put on the shoulders of this series. Even if one might have the tendency to call it a dumb action movie, I would say that it is just because it belongs to that genre and it has performed its duty. There was Expendables 1 and 2 along with many others which could have deserved that title in an even better way. Come back, Die Hard; come back stronger.

Release date: 13th February 2013 (USA); 22nd February 2013 (India)
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Yuliya Snigir, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvić, Cole Hauser

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✠The Vampire Bat.