Exodus

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Vampire Owl :: No, I have suffered too much with that earlier movie called Noah. No more!

Vampire Bat :: But, I would say that Noah has set such a terrible standard that it will be almost impossible for any other Biblical movie to come under it.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt that. The worst movie in any category is yet to come. There is always disaster in waiting. It is like a werewolf waiting for a full-moon when getting the release date.

Vampire Bat :: I see that your negativity about movies is increasing like your zombie minions’ doubts about your inability to owlify the world.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t understand why you doubt about categorizing Noah as the worst movie of the year. Along with bringing an aversion to Darren Aronofsky, I don’t see any other movie which put Christians, Athiests, Hindus and Muslims in the theatre to sleep with no discrimination. It has done India some favour with reflecting the unity in diversity, but in the end, it is just boredom for everyone, even for the categories with reservation.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, I did see the reaction in the theatre, but as you said, the worst movie list is still open.

Vampire Owl :: I think that you should close the yearly list right now. Now we know what movies to watch each weekend, and I don’t see any other movie coming close to as ridiculous as Noah.

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

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Exodus anymore. I am going to some place peaceful; like a cemetery, I guess.

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

[Starts the car].

What is it about? :: Ancient Egypt had grown vast and wide beyond the banks of the river Nile, and was going through its best times, but mostly based on the blood and sweat of its Hebrew slaves. As much as the great Egyptian Empire spreads and developed, so much more pressure came on its slaves who continue to suffer more. Under the rule of the Pharaoh Seti I, the empire continues to thrive. There seems to be glorious days which goes on and on. Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) grow up like brothers in the palace even as it is certain the latter shall go on to become the Pharaoh. It is like they do have each other’s back until that realization come upon them one day. The truth that was hidden for long will come to light, and being considered a Hebrew spy won’t do Moses much good. He would soon be banished from his world, but that wouldn’t be the end of him, as God has plans for him and his people as he will liberate them from the yoke of slavery and lead them to the promised land. But what does the Pharaoh say about this?

The defence of Exodus: Gods and Kings :: It is our duty to support the big epic stories on the screen, and in that case, we have an automatic self-defence here. We need our faith, the beliefs of the past to keep us going, and I am sure that Exodus: Gods and Kings will only be a positive factor in the same unlike Noah which came up with so much negativity about the same. This is also a visually stunning movie, unlike any Biblical movie that has come so far, and the splendour and awesomeness of the Ancient Egypt is shown with full strength like never before. The cities, the statues and monuments, the troops, the Pyramids and the location near the Nile – they are all breath-taking. There is a good amount of detail put into all of that. The plagues are also nicely shown on the screen with the visual effectiveness, especially the river of blood and the thunderstorms. The cast also works nicely. There is an effort taken to add some imagination and more realism too, even as not all of it have worked. Still a spectacle is guaranteed on the screen, and God is clearly shown to be on the side of the poor and the powerless.

Claws of flaw :: The inaccuracies are there; yes, there are too many liberties being taken, especially with the portrayal of God (somehow reminding me of Waiting for Godot) and the way in which the plagues appear, rather like intending to connect them in one way or the other to various other factors. There are many moments which got the differences seeming easy to detect here, and the certainty is there about criticizing the same – but nothing really in a bad way (Noah had brought new “bad” or the “terrible”). I won’t list them here as I would continue this one as more secular than religious in nature. I am not an Old Testament expert anyway. The biggest problem after the God depiction is the Red Sea scene which had a lot more scope as a direct miracle with the special effects. The characterization is also incomplete; there is no real effort put into concentrating on Moses as a person, and that affects most of the other characters too – but they are not strangers to the audience, are they? The ending is also not where it should have stopped. The ending was to be after the sea-scene, and this one goes on to stop in the middle of nowhere. There was no point in rushing through things here either.

Performers of the soul :: You know that this is supposed to be depending heavily on Christian Bale who has to keep it going, and it does. He doesn’t fail to deliver yet again, and even when the characterization seems to bring things down, he continues to strengthen things. A special mention is needed for María Valverde who looked lovely and too good for her character, even though having a comparatively minor role which she did to perfection and remains memorable. Joel Edgerton does a commendable job the pharaoh, and he has his moments as much as the protagonist has, plus when they are together, there is even more power on the screen. Sigourney Weaver is limited here in another small role. The rest of the actors playing Hebrew characters pale in comparison to the power of Christian Bale’s Moses, even as Ben Kingsley does seem to have the opportunity to be the next most noticed person there, and Aaron Paul comes after that. But this movie is more Moses’ movie than Noah belongs to its titular character, and so we can understand the limitations of the rest of the cast, except for the antagonist.

How it finishes :: Coming from the disappointment of watching Noah, I wondered about the possibility of this being a good one, but I had more expectations about this movie. Noah had hit the bottom of the movie ocean with its terrible attempts to make something ridiculous out of the void of nonsense created by itself. Despite this movie being better, I do wonder why this couldn’t have been even better, coming from a director like Ridley Scott whose Prometheus had me incredibly interested like Alien and there is no need to talk about Gladiator which is there in almost every poster of this movie with the lines “from the director of Gladiator” becoming its biggest promotion. There was going to be believers and non-believers coming to watch this movie, and it had to use its epic elements to better use to make sure that both were nicely satisfied, and this one just makes the touch instead of grabbing and using its available elements. One has to admit that it is still with enough strength to survive though, and when it gets weak, we remember the pathetic and boring experience which was Noah, and we get happier. This time, the one whom I ask to accompany me won’t feel the need to shoot me on the head.

A look into the status :: Exodus: Gods and Kings releases in India a week before it does in the United States – well, you know that it is usually the other way around; with rare exceptions like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You know about the recent ones The Equalizer and John Wick coming late here too. Now that is a twist of events, and it is a good thing as it won’t collide with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies next week, followed by Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and then Into the Woods on the Christmas weekend, even as I am doubtful about the last movie’s fate here. Now you know the schedule for every weekend of December – these are the four movies which we have this month, and with one gone, there are three more to go, among which I hope that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will go on to become the second highest grosser of the year if not the first, as far as it doesn’t go The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 way and doesn’t make that much of an impact. For now, Exodus: Gods and Kings has fertile grounds in the theatre, with not much of a challenge, and hope it makes good use of this advantage.

Release date: 5th December 2014 (India); 12th December 2014 (USA)
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, María Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, Indira Varma, John Turturro, Hiam Abbass, Kevork Malikyan, Anton Alexander, Golshifteh Farahani, Tara Fitzgerald, Ben Mendelsohn, Dar Salim

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Dark Knight Rises

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The one thing I am certain about this movie is that it is the one I have waited eagerly in 2012, and what I might differ in opinion with a few is that this is not among the best movies of the year. There is another element in which I would agree on, and it is that this is not the best of the series, and where I disagree is at the level of quality of each movie of the Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, with my favourites going in the same path as the timeline, as Batman Begins is my favourite, followed by The Dark Knight and this one, both separated by not much. But I wouldn’t do that without reasons. Ra’s al Ghul v/s Joker v/s Bane is a battle which has a clear winner for many, but The first one is a villain with something special, a big idea. But Batman Begins succeeds in its story, and the Scarecrow is a better villain than Two Face for sure. Both the Two Face and Bane were not used to their potential, and this is where the first movie of the series scores, as it built this triology out of nowhere, with nothing to support it at a time when Spider-Man and X-Men had the status of being the better loved heroes around here.

Without Batman Begins, there is no dark knight, a term which became incredibly popular and was even used with Novak Djokovic, not that much of an expected winner caught between the rivalry between Rafael Nadal who had clay in his pocket at that time, and Roger Federer who ruled the rest of the clay-less world. Therefore, it is just natural to pay the due respect to that movie which started them all. The Dark Knight had all its fame and glory only due to what the beginning had given its viewers, and I have to admit that I didn’t realize that the first time. But as long as the long list of origin stories are concerned, from X-Men Origins to the recently released Man of Steel, Batman Begins has a high place. The Dark Knight Rises continues that legacy which was handed over to it by the more critically acclaimed and more hyped second movie, and has completed the trilogy in style. The problem which this movie has to face is the long trail of near-perfection in the superhero genre that its predecessors had left for this one, and the same thing is both the good thing and the bad thing for this movie; for this one could improve on box-office, as it went on to overtake its predecessors and become the eighth highest grossing movie of all time grossing over a billion United States dollars. But it is to be noted that unlike its predecessors, the film was not nominated for any Academy Awards.

Eight years have passed after Harvey Dent’s death and the covering of the existence of the Two Face. The organized crime has almost been wiped out completely. Feeling guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes and framing Batman for the same, Gotham City’s Police Commissioner James Gordon writes a resignation speech which revealed the truth concerning the two, but decides not to use it at the last moment. Batman has disappeared and Bruce Wayne has kept himself away from all the action. It is at this moment that a burglar Selina Kyle appears, known to most of the fans as the Cat Woman. Bane’s appearance is the other major thing which changes the scenario, as he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s mission to destroy Gotham City and thus fulfill the aim of the League of Shadows. He punishes Batman and breaks his back, and then puts him in a prison from where escape is almost impossible. The fellow prisoners tell him the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping, the only prisoner to have ever done so – Batman assumes the child to be Bane, and his actions the revenge for what Batman did to his father.

Meanwhile, Bane traps Gotham police underground and destroys all the exits. He converts Bruce’s own reactor core into a nuclear bomb and uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the rest of the world. Using Gordon’s speech which he had stolen, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes telling the people that the whole police action and passed laws based on Dent’s act was a lie and releases the prisoners from different jails. There is a kind of revolution and the wealthy and powerful have their money and property taken away, are dragged from their homes, and forced to trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a the Scarecrow, where any sentence means death on most occasions and otherwise exile. After months of recovery and training both the body and the mind to face Bane, Batman manages to escape the prison and reach Gotham City, and enlist the help of Cat Woman and the others. But with a pseudo-revolution on the run, and all the criminals on the streets with no police force to stop them, Batman has more than what he would wish for this time. It is up-to him to stop the man who broke his back with relative ease, and to prevent whatever Ra’s al Ghul had intended to do.

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne a.k.a Batman continues his conquests, and here his performance is lowered only due to the absence of a villain who was as good as those in the first two movies, and there is no intellectually superior mastermind who decides who lives and who dies, and there is no wretched of the soul who is half Loki and half Lucifer, made with everything evil and everything psychotic. Instead he has a militant who is more of a physical threat than mental. Unfortunately, his thoughts and decisions are not his alone and himself outsmarting Batman was not something for which he could take credit, and at that point, he loses his significance and still not his presence and power. Still, Tom Hardy’s Bane is excellent in what he does. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle a.k.a Cat Woman becomes a revelation in the movie, and it is evident that she has trained extremely tried and tried her best to fit into that costume which so much physically demanding. Marion Cotillard outshines herself in the second half, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake comes up with a pleasant performance. Michael Caine and Gary Oldman plays the two normal characters in the movie who makes any impact.

Christopher Nolan did make Inception just a few years before this with that touch of brilliance, it was what stood between the two sequels; it was something which further accelerated the expectations. Here, we get some of it, and considering the fact that Batman has undergone evolution and there is no real base for the same, and there is no end to this superhero, we have to respect this title despite of the hype. It has done all that it could do, but it did nothing spectacular, and yet, this is very well done. It was a good decision to continue the Ra’s al Ghul legacy, and it was hundred percent a good decision not to make this in the 3D – full marks to that. There are movies that are to be enjoyed for fun, and even with all the entertaining elements in this movie, it scores slightly higher at the intellectual level rather than how it is supposed to happen in a regular superhero movie. The movie also leaves open slots, not just for a sequel, but also for a Cat Woman and a Robin spin-off as well as Justice League of America movie, in the model of The Avengers. It is certain that we haven’t seen even a little bit of what the DC’s cinematic universe has to offer its viewers. There is a lot coming, that is for sure with this one being the third highest grossing film of 2012 and also the third highest grossing superhero film of all time.

There is no doubt that the caped crusader has grown enough to lead the Mount Olympus of superheroes as the Zeus of this generation, with his biggest arch-rival Superman failing to live up-to the hype, and his next best rival Spider-Man slowly fading from the scene – both of them coming up with below-the-bat reboots which fails to challenge the Man-Bat. These three are challenged not by those superheroes of childhood, The Phantom and He-Man, but by the man they call Iron Man and his gang of Avengers, as well as X-Men, but they all follow a different path. The world’s greatest detective with the Bat logo has nothing to worry about his position right now, but in case of a reboot, it is all upto him to lose, as the rest have only gotten better. The concept of billionaire playboy, industrialist, and philanthropist itself already has been challenged by Iron Man, and with Man of Steel all the dark elements; The Amazing Spiderman has conquered the heroic elements, and whenever the abilities are glorified, there was X-Men First Class, with Wolverine to follow this year. Therefore, this domination of the dark knight is in a precarious position, and as this end to the trilogy was not as perfect as expected, there is surely a storm coming, and it would consist of more than one superhero. The only fear that I have is that can the Batman remain Batman for long, or will he be completely transformed into the dark knight, and Superman into the man of steel? It is that question which will be answered in a decade.

Release date: 20th July 2012
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Iron Man III

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A long time ago, there was the age of superheroes – some people might call it childhood; and during that age, three of the most significant superheroes might have been Superman, He-Man and The Phantom. But life changes and the focus had to shift to Spider-Man, a process which was boosted by the release of a movie starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Then Christian Bale and Liam Neeson had their say with that Christopher Nolan movie which shifted the scene to Batman. Iron Man came later, but survived through the assault of the bat on all the superheroes making the darkest and the not-so-super one the superior crime fighter. The man of iron was seen more as a lesser superhero compared to the man of steel as well as the man of darkness, but the series stepped on this prejudice and has given the viewers the third movie with no rust. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never failed in that case, as it has impressed me not only with the the three movies of this series, but also with those movies – with the incredible man-monster painted all green by science, with the alien god of the other world with a hammer, with the captain and defender of honour with that shield, and not to forget – with all of of them were combined and put together in a brilliant manner. These movies which are not named are quite easy to find out, and it is due to their popularity itself.

The movie occurs sometime after the alien invasion, the much effective team work, and all those events of The Avengers. Tony Stark has been too much concerned about the safety of his girlfriend, the new Stark Industries chief Pepper Potts; he has filled his place with Iron Man armour and most of them now works on their own according to his command. But soon, it is realized that the alien invasion is not what would be the upcoming terror for him, as Stark, with his lover of the time, and brilliant scientist Maya Hansen, had avoided the crippled scientist Aldrich Killian, whose dreams are shattered beyond repair. Meanwhile, a series of bombings by an unknown terrorist, the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies with no evidence to get on with their investigation as there is no bomb found. When Stark Industries security chief happens to be a victim of such an attack, Stark issues a threat to the Mandarin, and soon gets an unexpected response as he destroys Stark’s home with helicopters fitted with guns. Stark is taken far away from the site by his artificial intelligence and finds himself reported dead and too weak in power to return.

During his journey to revival, he discovers that the explosions were triggered by soldiers from an experimental treatment which would allow people to recover from horrible injuries. It is their bodies which couldn’t handle the programme that exploded. He also discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor named Trevor Slattery and the terrorist is a creation of Killian who has also kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to the same treatment. The President is also his target and for that, he has taken control of the War Machine armour which has been serving to protect the President. Now, the Iron Man has to deal with all his problems including the anxiety disorder which followed the near-death experience related to that alien invasion event, his love which he had failed to show as well as prove in the middle of all the chaos, save the world with his own lover and also one President – not really a hard task considering what he has done so far, but not that easy when his situation is given attention. But the fact remains that he is still the Iron Man, which he does say with confidence, and that is one thing which would guide him with chaos and misery all around. It is his success that should keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe going, and it is left for us to see.

300: Rise of an Empire is still the comic book movie which I want to watch this year more than anything else, but I would say that love is beyond comics and more into a dream of the past and a nightmare of history. The movie might not even reach here. My expectations about Man of Steel and The Wolverine won’t be as high as what I have for this one either. So it is worth talking about this one as the much awaited superhero comics movie of the year. If asked about the movie being living upto the expectations, it certainly did. While talking more about the expectations, wasn’t that more about pure fun than anything else? In that case, the movie has incredible success. I am not that much of a fan of the movie’s 3D, and would have found it good enough to have seen it in 2D at a lower price and without the trouble of having to wear the glasses. But as long as the special effects are concerned, they are well done and all those action sequences with the support of these effects, create a world of enjoyable chaos and destruction which are of no pain. The movie is made into a pure entertainer and a master of its genre, gaining in strength from its own pace and still getting faster from its strength that is sticking to what it has been doing through the previous titles – to entertain and not to take logic for dinner and make her talk.

Robert Downey Jr is the Iron Man once again, and there is no point where he isn’t the man in the armour, no matter how much he walks around without it. I would consider him more as Sherlock Holmes rather than Iron Man, but in this movie, he is more of iron, and his character has undergone more changes which makes him more of that superhero not just to the crowd, but also to his own people. The story of the man in the armour moves so, and so does the movie, and to expect some other person in this role is absurdity, for there is no question about it yet again. Gwyneth Paltrow’s role has been extended in this one, not just by the screen presence which is not an improvement – for it is more of the essence as well as the power and influence. She gets that much power by the end of the movie, and this strength which is more hulk-like than anything else is more funny than being significant enough to be carried on. The damzel in distress gets powerful – not forever and not in the way she wanted to be and it is surely not a thing to be kept in the urn and driven towards eternity by the horsemen of the other world. The character has become more and more of her, and the lady of the superhero has lived upto the title, as the woman of iron who burns – being hot was applicable to many women in the movie, but for her, it also becomes literal.

Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian is too effective as a villain that it is very easy to hate the character. One gets to remember Sebastian Shaw of X-Men: First Class – there was Kevin Bacon, and both the characters being involved in genetic mutation and the use of science and technology as evil, with a never ending desire to rule the world and keep things running in their own way – they deserve to be partners in crime, but I don’t see the X-Men being brought to the Avengers initiative and the Shaw character was already finished by the end of the last X-Men movie. Here, Killian is a “created” monster – an indirect creation, unlike Shaw who created monsters out of good men. Our monster here is not only the monster, but also the creator who creates more out of what he has become. He is able to channelize his anger and desperation in the right path, that is incredibly wrong and evil. What his wrath does is to redo the wrong and the wicked in such a way that it becomes so common. If he was shown with conscience or some kind of emotional attachment, that would have been his failure. But there is nothing of that sort, and the success in villainy is attained. There is the presence of science, technology, energy, destruction, and all which would suit an evil genius of his type – thats all he needs and thats what he gets.

Rebecca Hall as Maya Hansen, is another character and a bit of the monster’s little helper, and despite of the presence of the so called “hotness”, the best looking lady around – talking about in a subjective manner. She is with the monster, but still not monster enough. Stephanie Szostak looks so scary and attractive as the assassin which makes an incredible contradiction out of nowhere. The literal “hot” version can be applied to her too, as she bruns quite a lot as the result of that experiment. Ben Kingsley creates a powerful effect on the movie, which was good to see. Don Cheadle continues to be the “other man of iron” as expected, with no trouble. With all these, the movie is undoubtedly a huge grosser even in this part of the world. There is a good amount of difficulty in getting the tickets and if asked why it is so popular, the reasons are so many. I had to witness too many trailers before the movie to get into it, and the crowd was huge and getting into the theatre took some time with all the traffic and related stuff, but it was worth that. My advice on it would be to drink some tea and get some tickets. Any other advice would be so much beyond the armour of iron, and the best of armour comes from the elixir of life that is tea.

Release date: 26th April 2013
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Ben Kingsley

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.