Jumanji: The Next Level

What is the movie about? :: Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff), Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman), Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner) and Anthony Fridge Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain) have gone separate ways after that one adventure with the Jumanji video game where they returned the Jaguar’s Eye, a magic jewel to the shrine where it belonged. They had saved the day, and then did decide never to go back to those video game avatars again. After a long time, they plan to meet up in Brantford, and everyone except Spencer is very much interested in seeing the team back again. He had put his romantic relationship with Martha on hold, and was living a rather dull life, as this call for a meeting reminds him not to see his old friends, but to go back to Jumanji, where he was special, and could save the world – that was the only way for him to become important again, with three lives inside a video game, fighting evil and making a difference yet again.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Fridge, Martha and Bethany meet up at the cafe sharing some happy moments of re-union, and are concerned when Spencer doesn’t show up, not even bothering to leave a message for them. This leads to them going to his home, and meeting Spencer’s grandfather Eddie Gilpin (Danny DeVito), who is currently recovering from hip surgery, and his former friend Milo Walker (Danny Glover) with whom he has issues over their former partnership cafe business which is no more. The three friends realize that even his grandfather has no clue where he is. But then they hear the drums of Jumanji, and down in the basement, everyone in the house except Bethany are sucked into the video game as the playable character while she is left rejected. The other four reaches inside the game, confused with their avatars, except for Martha who manages to get her same character as in her previous outing inside the Jumanji world.

And what else is to follow in this adventure beyond? :: So, as the four people become characters in the video game, Eddie becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Milo becomes Franklin Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart) and Fridge becomes Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black). Martha continues to be Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), the martial arts expert. They are confused about the change of situation, and the new location while the non-playable character Nigel Billingsley (Rhys Darby) briefs the new and advanced mission to them. He informs them that a ruthless warlord Jurgen the Brutal (Rory McCann) has stolen a magic necklace called the Falcon’s Heart. The land is in drought in its absence, and there is an immediate need to bring it to the sun so that everything can be restored. Without it, the whole of Jumanji would turn into a cursed land with no hope. Now, with a few confused people, the question remains if they can succeed in this and bring Spencer home.

The defence of Jumanji: The Next Level :: Jumanji and its related movies have always entertained us, and this film is no exception. The coordination here is wonderful, and the world created here is also worth our attention. There are some fine scenes of action and adventure that can be seen here too. The humour is also nicely created, and the comic side gets a boost on many occasions. There are some scenes that will stay in the minds, one including a series of moving bridges and a group of monkeys, and another one is about body switching between characters. The humour doesn’t begin and end at exact places, as it is present throughout the film. It does know where to place all these, and in the end, the movie is never long, and never does it drag – with its shorter length, it makes a fine watch with ease. The audience for this movie could only increase in the next few days.

The claws of flaw :: There might be the feeling of repetition for some, even though the difference is certainly there. Any feeling of not liking this movie is mostly linked the absence of an understanding of it, as the crowd seems to be less for this one in this part of the world. Still, there is no doubt about the fact that this could have had even more adventures with extra additions of traps here and there. Light-hearted fantasy adventures can never have more, and this one limits its collection. Also, I have always had the opinion that this one should have had one more female playable character in the game. Here, it doesn’t have a competitor from Hollywood, and so, the flaws will most probably be forgotten. Anything missing can be added in another possible sequel, and we would definitely need one with the same cast returning, and bigger adventures happening.

The performers of the soul :: This is certainly a movie of fun performances. Dwayne Johnson a.k.a. the Rock is once again fantastic in this kind of role, and he brings a lot of fun as well as action in the best possible ways. We had just seen him, the man who has been Hercules, in Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw were he excelled. Karen Gillan who is best known for playing Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers series of movies, is seen in an even better avatar, something which can make one recommend her for a Tomb Raider movie over all other actresses. The way she swings on the ropes and poles, and jumps on the walls reminds one of those Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia video games – she is one perfect video game character and is joy to watch. The looks support what she does. Jack Black brings a lot to the funny side. Danny DeVito and Danny Glover makes a fine combination too. Kevin Hart makes a fine avatar too. Morgan Turner leads the way with real-life forms of the young game characters.

How it finishes :: I remember having loved the 1995 movie of the same name, and then the 2005 movie Zathura: A Space Adventure, both having children in trouble when they are playing board games which are more than just games. I had missed Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and it is something that I regret after watching this sequel which is one interesting adventure, rising far above what was shown in the trailer. It is the kind of adventure that anyone would love to watch, and The Rock has always been good with this kind of movies, with an adventure having a funny side, and just like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island which was an adaptation to remember. Many of us have wanted to be a part of a video game, living through them as if the character which we play are us – it is more applicable in the case of Role Playing Games, and this movie lets us live through one of such games, and it is a very enjoyable ride.

Release date: 13th December 2019
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Honeymoon

honeymoon (1)

Vampire Owl :: I was planning for a Honeymoon with Lady Death myself.

Vampire Bat :: But you are not married yet.

Vampire Owl :: Yet, but it has to happen some day. I am preparing my soul for the same. I have even bought a Suit of Death from Vampire Best Deals.

Vampire Bat :: Do you know that the suit is supposed to prevent death for a few hours?

Vampire Owl :: What? It is not supposed to bring death closer?

Vampire Bat :: No, it is not. The original prototype was used by Uncle Dracula to travel to twenty seventh dimension of eternal death. Vampires and the rest of the undead can’t go through the realms of death without permission from the dead, as it can cause slow disintegration of the vampire body. This suit prevents the same.

Vampire Owl :: What? It is totally unfair. This is going to prevent my Honeymoon from ever happening. Mountain of Death brings death, Isle of Death is known for dealing with death, Valley of Death causes more deaths than any other place, and why is this Suit of Death so much the opposite?

Vampire Bat :: Well, you should have read the full description before buying it. Vampire Raven once bought something and didn’t speak even a word after that.

Vampire Owl :: My honeymoon plans are ruined. You could have at least given me false hope by not letting me know.

Vampire Bat :: Well, we will watch the movie Honeymoon instead.

[Gets a cup of tea].

What is it about? :: A newly married couple, Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) finds the right place to celebrate their honeymoon, and it is a cabin in the woods. It seems to be the perfect and extremely peaceful are as they enjoy their time and explore the surroundings. In a small restaurant, they meet Will (Ben Huber) who seems to act strange and his wife Annie (Hanna Brown) who is acts even more weird. One night, Bea goes missing, and later she starts showing some strange behaviour which upsets Paul. She forgets things and write down even basic facts about her life. She often acts opposite to how she had been earlier. Paul sees strange lights at night and feels that a third person is involved. But he finds no real clue anywhere as things don’t get any better.

The defence of Honeymoon :: The movie uses its environment related to the cabin in the woods to come up with the much needed advantage. The two main characters are also made a lot more interesting by the cast. There are a lot of interesting moments between these two characters, and the performances are excellent throughout. The time before the major incident and after that are actually presented in different ways, and it makes us feel the change with a powerful psychological impact. It also leaves a lot of things to our imaginations, and it plays on our mind to know what is wrong, and who is the one actually in trouble here. You feel caught between the two characters, thinking and imagining to recreate what could possibly have gone wrong between the two lovers who seemed so happy and energetic just a few moments ago.

Claws of flaw :: Honeymoon surely drags, and it takes quite a lot of time to get into its more interesting part. Even between the thrills, it goes rather slow. There is a certain amount of beauty about this slowness at times as it adds to the mystery elements, but at some other times, it is not there. The ending is actually a little bit of a let down [A little bit of spoiler stuff to follow even though nothing of heavy dosage] considering the fact that this was going so nice as a psychological thriller-horror movie until the finishing line doesn’t really justify the same, but attributes things to unknown creatures. Even with surprises thrown in here and there, it finally comes to those moments which are rather more predictable, and things become what a good number of people might have thought in the beginning.

Performers of the soul :: The movie needed its performances because it uses them more than anything else due to being a psychological thriller on one side despite being known as a horror movie – may be that ending confused the genres and even added a certain amount of sci-fi to the same. You have to love Rose Leslie in this one, and you once again get to see Game of Thrones‘ own Ygritte doing what she does best; giving the feeling that her husband knows nothing as her character undergoes changes. She has managed two sides of her character so well that we can see the changes clearly and impressively managed. Lets see what she can offer in The Last Witch Hunter – wait for it. Harry Treadaway does a very good job, and the chemistry between them in amazing.

Soul exploration :: The movie asks the basic question if you really know the one who is close to you – it is something that is worth feeling scared about. Well, people do pretend to be someone else, and acting comes naturally to a lot of people. You see those people with profiles on the matrimonial websites with descriptions being God fearing, non-alcoholic and never smoking, but do you think that it is true? Well, even in the case of love marriages, people are blind in love and can’t see through the masks. If people missed this idea, that makes an opportunity gone for this movie. Will someone whom you love undergo so many changes that one day, that you won’t be really sure who he or she is? Well, it is a point to think about, and something that this movie could have focused further on. It is not that the same is not in the movie, but it is not that clear.

How it finishes :: The first movie that comes to my mind when thinking about this, is Under the Skin. They are surely not the same, but some moments do feel similar from a distance. Well, this one keeps the audience wondering though; couldn’t this have been a lot better with the premise? It is good with its stress and intensity, but is this all that this movie could come up with after showing a lot more promise? May be they could have stuck to the psychological side throughout, and in the end, we could have had a minimum of one psychopath or even two. It could have surely achieved better ratings with that. It already has a powerful drama side to power the same. The horror that this movie required was purely psychological, and with the same not being fully there, Honeymoon could have really been the true honeymoon.

Release date: 7th March 2014
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Hanna Brown, Ben Huber

honeymoon

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Seconds

seconds. (1)

Vampire Owl :: I can’t spare seconds. No, I am owlifying right now. Don’t you realize that?

Vampire Bat :: Seconds? What about seconds? I am talking about sparing hours for the movie called Seconds.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt if I am available. I am at work. I have already prepared the giant globe of domination to owlify the world. I just need a suitable power source. I can’t risk losing my focus due to a movie now.

Vampire Bat :: I see this as your evil plot to blame me after I watch this movie alone.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t understand why I would do that. You are the movie watcher and I am the side-kick for now. But after owlification, all of you will be my side-kicks.

Vampire Bat :: I don’t see how your plan is going to work. Lets watch the movie instead. This will make four Jayasurya movies in a month in the theatre. Isn’t it something new?

Vampire Owl :: Four? That is shocking – even I can’t play four roles in my life.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Iyobinte Pusthakam, Lal Bhadur Shastri, Mathai Kuzhappakkaranalla and now Seconds.

Vampire Owl :: I see the level of movie coming down with each of them. This is why you should place your head on the rails for that movie train too.

Vampire Bat :: Even the boogeyman has been more generous with movies.

[Starts the car].

The people of the story :: An insurance agent, Veeramani (Jayasurya) lives in an agraharam with his wife (Anusree Nair) and is troubled by the lack of confidence and due to a certain amount of fear that he seems to have, he struggles to sell and achieve his target. He gets an appointment with a psychatrist and hopes to solve his problems. Meanwhile, a sales manager named Teena (Aparna Nair) is hoping to pay off her family’s debts which has risen up to a sum of twenty five lakh rupees which is clearly beyong her abilities. At the same time, a wedding photographer called Feroze (Vinay Fort) is trying to reach somewhere high in his profession with good contacts and is also hoping to buy a building for a new shop. A goon who spends most of his time in jail, Thampi (Vinayakan) is the next person on the list, and he wanders around having drugs. There is the point of view of each of these characters taken into consideration, and they are brought together in a lift.

What is it about? :: The movie is about the above mentioned people coming together in a lift of a big apartment building in the city of Cochin, and three of the four people are murdered on the location. We are only shown that Teena murders Thampi, as the other killings occur when lift gets stuck in the middle with no power. The prime suspect is Teena as expected, but the question remains if it was Thampi who murdered the rest and tried to kill Teena as he is the typical bad guy and criminal. Out of the two other people, it seems that only Veeramani has a chance for survival. As the investigations progress, the answer to all the question lie somwhere in the flashback. But there seems to be no link between these people, and the question remains about the motive as it doesn’t seem to be there at all. Four strangers in a lift, and three dead; not the best case to solve for any police team – how will it go this time?

The defence of Seconds :: The movie starts with a full power sequence, a death and the murder which happens; from there, it goes on to the usual stuff which gets the power back in the second half, and ends nicely with a twist. The struggling middle manages to connect the beginning and the end to create the desired effect, even as the theatre response still seemed pretty bad. Its non-linear pattern of narration is actually nicely woven to create the desired suspense, even as the frequency of the same could have been reduced along with the repetitions that we notice. The reason why we avoid some of the faults is due to the hope that the mistakes are corrected by the next movie. Malayalam movies still have a lot to explore in the thriller territory, and let this movie be another step in the same direction – a very small one. The cast performances are also a plus for sure. Lets categorize this one as an action-drama-thriller; should work better that way.

Claws of flaw :: Seconds struggles to keep the audience interested, as it doesn’t have that much of a powerful characterization, and neither does it gives us the characters to cheer for. It also works on the drama side too much, and its thriller side is virtually absent throughout the half sans the first few minutes. There is a lot of drag between the first nice sequence and the final ones, as what comes between is just ordinary drama that we see too many times at different occasions. In that case, we can consider the movie to be too long, as without a better characterization, this show of the life of characters is rather dull. We could have gone from the first sequence to the second half without bothering much about the life of these characters, but that certainly wouldn’t have been possible considering the already short length of the movie – there comes the need for a longer investigation and more thrills. It is a problem with the plot as a whole, but it is good as parts. There is also too much of the breaking of narrative and the re-telling of the same scenes which affect the flow.

Performers of the soul :: Making us wonder if there was clumsiness or laziness in characterization as well as the script, the four protagonists emerge here, and among them, Aparna Nair needs the most applause as she does her job with a fine touch. It is nice to see her in a major role after some time. In a role that is no challenge to him Jayasurya also excels. Vinay Fort is very good, but is often undone by the character’s lack of stability. Vinayakan also goes through his role with ease like nobody else. Salim Kumar just has a cameo in which nothing much is to be done, and Indrans and Sasi Kalinga are also limited to a few minutes on the screen. Anusree also has less dialogues and presence. Shankar Ramakrishnan is okay. May be the actors had a better chance with a better characterization and a better idea about what the makers were trying to achieve with the mixture of things.

How it finishes :: The movie leaves one with a strange feeling, like it seems that the movie is okay, but there is so much of incompleteness about it, and it did contribute with some boring moments to add to the already monotonous life. The movie should have been more clear in what it tries to achieve. Its power is the suspense and the twist about the murder mystery, which should have been further explored – here, the investigative side is too weak. The message here is still about the looks though, on how it can be deceiving, and how each second affects the life of a person according to one decision that he or she makes during the same. This could have been better than Angels, and still it isn’t – but the fate for both movies seems to be the same, especially with Lingaa and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies coming next weekend, and the former is expected to take a lot of audience away as it focuses on a similar audience. But lets hope for the best.

Release date: 5th December 2014
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Aneesh Upasana
Starring: Jayasurya, Vinay Fort, Aparna Nair, Anusree Nair, Ambika Mohan, Vinayakan, Indrans, Salim Kumar, Riyaz Khan, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Sasi Kalinga, Narayanan Kutty

seconds

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Runner Runner

runnerrunner (6)

✠ This was a week blessed by no releases which came out with a good critical reception, and the after-effects of that movie Besharam was haunting me. It re-iterated the need for a good movie, and I had high expectations about this flick, but those waxen wings were burnt yet again, and therefore it is necessary that Count Dracula take over half of those expectations. This has been a bad beginning to a month which starts with Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday right on the second day, and considering the fact that I had to watch Besharam on that day was sad, and as I add this movie’s score to, the total should be 57/200 which is undoubtedly the worst beginning I ever had to a month this year. With that sadness concerning a month which might not rise in quality much if an average is taken, I have to take you back to the legendary vampire.

Count Dracula: So you are back. You had Jumper, Sinister, Offender, Parker, Looper and now Runner; that too twice. The names of the movies are indeed strange. Among those movies ending with -er I would have preferred those less complicated ones like Hellraiser, Dreamcatcher, Outlander and the inverted version ending with -re, possibly with the word “vampire”.

Vampire Bat: I can see that the absence of Twilight movies are bringing you back into this world. Yes, the title is Runner Runner, and it is good that they had chosen such a title, as the movie drags a lot in between and it is a good thing that people get to know that it is running.

Count Dracula: Do you mean to see that a movie which was so much awaited, a flick which has Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton is quite bad and doesn’t deserve to be watched?

Vampire Bat: That would be pure nonsense. I am surely recommending this one, even as not that much as most of those other movies of the earlier weeks; and this movie might be the winner of this week which was plagued by Besharam and is not supported by any superstar movies from Malayalam industry. Runner Runner might not win by a big margin considering the number of people who were present in the theatre even during the best time of a semi-holiday, but if there is a movie which needs some appreciation among those released this week, it is this movie. The critics might have panned it a little too much in my opinion, for this is no Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance.

Count Dracula: Why did you have to remind me of that movie? Wasn’t the reminder about Twilight and Besharam enough for the day. You always ruin my day like those wood elves. I need to eat a hobbit, but that would take some time too.

Vampire Bat: That should be mainly because I am not here to make you listen to what you want to hear. But let me tell you that this movie scores with its cast. Its greatest advantage remains Justin Timberlake. He was good in Bad Teacher, and I loved his performances in Friends With Benefits and In Time. Here also, he is really good, but his character is let down by the story which goes on through the predictable lines and even as they seem to promise for some surprises at times, there is nothing risky in a gambling movie, and when they don’t dare to do that in a movie which is all about taking risk and gambling, that is a real shame.

Count Dracula: It doesn’t make any sense that you have not started talking about Gemma Arterton. What about her? Her presence in Byzantium makes me wish to go back to the civilized world again. I had heard that they didn’t release that movie in your land. They should be really evil, as it is one of the best things which has happened to the vampire world since my last bloodbath.

Vampire Bat: Yes, she has been an unavoidable force for me from the days of Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and finally Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters this year. But I didn’t like her that much in this movie as I expected. She was pretty and did all that she was supposed to do, but one has to wonder what purpose has her character really served in the movie by coming out of nowhere at regular intervals. Yes, she makes me ask for sequels to both Prince of Persia and Hansel and Gretel, but not for this one.

Count Dracula: You don’t need to say that Ben Affleck was good, as I have known that already. I am not predicting what you saw in the theatre, or what was to happen, but I am pretty much confident about that. I am not sceptical about his upcoming role as Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel either, as most of the people are. He has been Daredevil and he can be Batman. Matt Murdock can be Bruce Wayne, and not every Batman needs to be the same.

Vampire Bat: You are very good at taking words out of the mouth of others, and this is no exception. Yes, the three people forms the pillars of the movie, and the two male characters run the show. Gemma’s character could have had a lot more to do, but I guess we can’t have a Gretel or Tamina every time. Still, there is no denying that the scope for such a character in a movie like this is almost limitless.

Count Dracula: I am not a gambler, my friend. Neither am I a gangster. So, my interest in such a movie is limited. I am rather a vampire who often forgets to brush my teeth and visit a dentist. How did the gambling side work out with you? And does it have enough blood?

Vampire Bat: No, it is far behind in action, and therefore also the blood. Its adult certificate is for the sexual content which is censored at this part of the world, and the near absence of clothes is more of fashion, and I didn’t see those people who came to watch the movie with families leaving, and therefore the lingerie stuff should be okay with them. I would wonder if the gambling side worked at most of the theatres in this part of the world though, as most of us are not aware of the thing properly. But did Justin Timberlake’s character narrate between action to make it known better? I don’t think so.

Count Dracula: So tell me how does it end? Don’t throw the spoiler at me, but still let me know about it. I shall buy only the DVD of that movie, and I have to know the whole thing a little better.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is about a student who loses all his money to an online gambling game, and after coming to know that he was cheated, goes to Costa Rica to find the owner of the site and confront him only to taken to his side. He is romantically linked to the former lady love of the man and is bothered by the FBI to assist them in finding proof for taking the lord of gambling into custody. There are enough suspicions and double-crossing stuff to deal with, and the climax is pretty good.

Count Dracula: So, Runner Runner is worth a watch, and I surely have to get that DVD. I shall look for it the next time I go to the goblin market. If I can’t find it there, it shall be upon you to get that to me.

Vampire Bat: I shall still recommend this one if you are going for a movie this weekend. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now. May the shadows be with you.

Vampire Bat (to himself): I am fully in support of this movie in the form of a DVD, as an uncut version, and if you also live in such a part of the world where the options are the same as mine, go for this movie in the theatre. The beauty of Costa Rica and the three leading actors might be enough to make your day as this is a shameless week for us as far as movies are considered.

✠ For a Malayalam movie fan, this flick brings back the memories of Jose Praksh’s “muthala kunjungal”, for our dear antagonist has crocodiles as pets and feeds them very well, and there is a scene involving him almost feeding his opponents to the creatures in water. Well, this movie doesn’t go to crocodiles of Lake Placid, nor does it goes to the dinosaur of Jurassic Park. With a better plot and a better characterization of Gemma’s character, the three could have done wonders here. Do keep the ears ready for some good lines in the movie, and be prepared for half a fun ride which might be enough for some and not at all working for others. The movie is that much of a gamble that you have to take as it happens inside, and there is a big chance that this will come up okay, and a slight chance that this won’t work at all – there is much lesser chance of this impressing you to the core. Next time, I hope that when they make a thriller, there would me more risks taken and big twists explored, rather than going in a straight path as if it is a drama movie. It is a short movie, both in content and in running time, and may be it is for the good.

Release date: 4th October 2013
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Brad Furman
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, David Costabile, Sam Palladio, Oliver Cooper, Ben Schwartz

runnerrunne copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.