Terminator: Genisys

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Vampire Owl: I feel the nostalgia already. Do you?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I do. It has powered today’s movie journey. There is also our favourite Dragon Lady here. This a must watch!

Vampire Owl: Let’s just watch it then!

Vampire Bat: With no hesitation. He has to be back for real this time.

[Gets the tickets with extra popcorn and Mango flavoured ice cream].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com where I handle the Hollywood movie reviews division: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/890-terminator-genisys-movie-review.html

There are many types of nostalgia, but there might be nothing like The Terminator for the movie fans of the 1990s. Arnold Schwarzenegger had become a lot bigger name with the movie and its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The success meant that there were five movies in the franchise which has now reached Terminator Genisys despite the lesser impact that its predecessor Terminator Salvation had created. Due to the never ceasing power of the franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger had to come back and give it another push, hoping to bring back some of the lost glory, and Terminator Genisys is the product of a need and a desire.

Years after the Judgment Day and machines taking over the planet, John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the Human Resistance against Skynet hopes to end the threat from the machines with two big assaults. The first one is to attack Skynet’s main core base, and the second to destroy a time machine located hidden and away from the main base. But despite what seemed to be a defeat for the machines at the main base, a T-800 killing machine was sent back to 1984 though the time-machine to kill John’s mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) so that he or the Resistance wouldn’t be born. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to go after the terminator and defend the lady.

This much is more like the expected side, as most the audience is familiar with the franchise so far, or at least until the second movie. The twist happens as the terminator as well as Kyle reaches the past. Now, in this timeline, it seems that Sarah is not someone who needs to be defended. She is already skilled with the guns and is protected by another T-800 machine called Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who has protected her right from her childhood and prepared her for what was to come. They easily get rid of the T-800 and finish off T-1000 with a trap much to the surprise of Kyle. But with this change to the past, what is it that the future has in store for them?

There are many twists in store in this movie along with the altered timeline. It is regarding Skynet and Genisys, John Connor, the working of the machines and our old T-800 model. It is more like a desperate effort to make the most out of all that is available, and the positive thing is that it is mostly successful in doing that. The problem is that it might seem repetitive, and this problem called Skynet and time travel has such big relationship that it can tire the viewers at times. The same also means that this is not simple action movie anymore and things are only prepared to get even more complicated. It is better for the intellect, but not that much for the regular fan.

Arnold Schwarzenegger still has a big fan-base even in this part of the world, and it was clear with those claps which were heard inside the theatre. Even after these many years, people still wish to watch him on the big screen, doing action roles – he has been a symbol of the genre for the common man, a lot more than Sylvester Stallone could ever be. Time has passed, and new action heroes have emerged, but as far as Hollywood is concerned, people like to stick to this man. It is the same which the movie has utilized, for Arnold and Terminator is a combination that works better than anything else, and as he does what he has always done the best, this sequel stays powered.

Game of Thrones’ own Khaleesi, the Mother of Dragons, Emilia Clarke joins him on this battle against the machines, calling him Pops and making him her own personal Guardian Angel. You have to love her in this role too; the fans certainly will. With the rest of them also contributing very well, the cast is a fine reason why you can watch this one. The movie’s biggest strength is still nostalgia, and the action sequences are nice; the plot related to the timelines also leaves us something to ponder about. There are some moments of laughter too, most of them related to Arnold himself. Yes, it is visually very good too.

The alternate timeline meant that there was more freedom here, and the advantage of having things reset is that you don’t need a real reboot or remake to continue a franchise, and a sequel will always attract more people because it is supposed to recreate a lot more rather than remake or somewhat recreate the content. Still, just like Jurassic World, this one also doesn’t manage to become the grand remake which could use all the resources to make things better than how it was with the original. It is not that we were expecting such a thing to happen, but there are people who have waited so eagerly for this movie. This is still the best you have had since Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Release date: 3rd July 2015 (India); 1st July 2015 (USA)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, J. K. Simmons, Lee Byung-hun, Wayne Bastrup, Matt Smith, Courtney B. Vance, Dayo Okeniyi, Gregory Alan Williams, Sandrine Holt, Michael Gladis, Griff Furst, Teri Wyble, Nolan Gross

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Hunger Games

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As we wait with that patience which would be intolerant in the absence of the movies like Pacific Rim for the arrival of that possible sequel of magnificent wonder and unparalleled inspiration, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and HBO Asia finding it a part of their interest to show its prequel on a number of occasions, it is only a matter of a few micro-seconds when that expected decision is taken to write on this movie which began the adventures of Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire – the beautiful protagonist of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy on screen. The question would remain though, about how much of an impact these movies can create, on those undesirable factors which prevail throughout the current world, even as the movie is set in the future. On my records, this is among the best movies of 2012, sharing the honour for third place with The Cabin in the Woods, but in a perfectly assigned scoring system which I would implement when I came back from the grave, this might come fourth. But isn’t it catchy enough already with its name itself – the games of hunger, or the games for getting rid of hunger, in a future dystopia where inequality thrives with its roots going deep into the soil of human nature? Well, the games would continue in November 2013 and until now, there is this completed game.

A post-apocalyptic situation has lead to the nation of Panem consisting of a wealthy city of Capitol and twelve poor, struggling districts. As a punishment for a past rebellion and riots, each district is forced to provide a boy and a girl as tributes to compete in a virtually created environment in the form of a real world where they would have to struggle for survival, and the last man or woman standing would be rewarded. The tributes are supposed to be between the ages of 12 and 18 and are selected by the lottery method which they called the Reaping. These tournaments of magnificence are called the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her family come from District 12, a coal-mining district which is incredibly poor and less populated, having not a good record or good chance at the annual games. They struggle to survive in situations of hardship. When her sister Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is chosen to fight till death in her first Reaping, Katniss volunteers to take her place in the games. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a baker’s son, is chosen as the other district tribute. Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol in a luxury train and is provided with high level accommodation and the facilities which would have been unknown to them in their district.

They are accompanied by their mentor and past Games victor, an alcoholic Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). They are informed that they should make them likable enough for the sponsors to send them anything helpful during the match. The find the tributes from Districts 1 and 2 who are trained to win the tournament from the early age itself, and have a big chance of murdering the rest of the participants early. Katniss and Peeta succeeds in making early good impressions with their first public appearance as well as the interviews, and the former does exceedingly well with her archery skills. Peeta’s love for Katniss is also revealed during the period of preparation. About half the tributes are killed in the beginning of the game itself, and Katniss, while on the run forms an alliance with a little girl Rue (Amandla Stenberg) from District 11 as the others come up with their own unholy alliances. After her death, Katniss joins with Peeta and tries to survive with only a few contestants left. This process is affected by a number of interventions by the tournament controllers and their plans to keep the tournament at a level which would be the most favourable.

With no surprises, this is Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, as the whole world is centred around Katniss Everdeen. This is third movie of hers that I had the opportunity to watch, after X-Men: First Class and House at the End of the Street, and doubt me not when I say that I shall also watch Silver Linings Playbook. She has set new standards for the leading character of a movie which is a deathmatch with the rules of the last man standing, something which takes a gamer back to that game mode in Unreal Tournament, and whatever followed as the other first-person shooter computer games. Even with doing nothing spectacular, she keeps her character strong, powerful and attractive. Katniss’ extraordinary display of courage is not only portrayed through her one huge life-changing decision to replace her sister and save her life, but also in her words,from the moment she is chosen as the tribute and her existence was possibly going to be a very short one: “No. You can’t. Not like when dad died. You’re all she has. No matter what you feel, you be there for her, you understand. Don’t cry. Don’t cry”. She traverses around that forest with her bow and a quiver of arrows like Artemis, the Greek Goddess of hunting. Josh Hutcherson progresses in the role of Peeta in the exact same way as the viewer would expect.

Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow delivers those powerful quotes to be remembered: “I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean, if we just wanted to intimidate the districts, why not round up twenty-four at random and execute them all at one? It would be a lot faster. Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it”. This dialogue defines the movie in a scene – what The Hunger Games is all about. As the primary antagonist of the series, and the autocratic ruler of the Capitol and all of Panem, it also defines the character and lest us know what to expect from him in the upcoming movies. There is a lot more to come from him, and one can be sure that some of those moments won’t leave one that easily. Foxface is the female tribute from District 5 played by Jacqueline Emerson is the next interesting character, even as the tribute makes very less impact on the storyline. Alexander Ludwig’s Cato and Isabelle Fuhrman’s Clove makes the skilled and heaviy trained District 2 tributes who work as the major antagonists inside the tournament.

The movie lacks in the intense action sequences and use of good special effects and CGI which could have made this one even better, and the slowness gets a little uninspiring at some moments. But what it losses in its lack of pace, action and effects is gained by some great acting and its own powerful theme. Katniss herself is a symbol of a rebellion for the twelve poor districts against the rich Capitol’s oppression, and even as this movie only begins a procedure, and Katniss has only become the shadow of what she can do later, this is one message against inequality and oppression which the movie has conveyed wonderfully. “War, terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained. And then came the peace, hard fought, sorely won. A people rose up from the ashes and a new era was born. But freedom has a cost. When the traitors were defeated, we swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed, that each year, the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute, one young man and woman, to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage and sacrifice. The lone victor, bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.”

What is said in these lines are the lies that the common man is forced to believe; and as the dictator himself says, it gives them hope which rises over their fear. But this is that fake hope which helps them to rule over the common man and continue to be rich at their cost. The need for rebellion is asserted, as it is the Capitol that rules them all, and it is that one city that has everything, and when the rebellion for their own basic needs is termed as treachery and the people branded traitors. The theme of self-sacrifice is there, as Katniss’ substitutes herself and becomes willing to die for her younger sister, like Jesus did for the atonement of the sins of humanity; Peeta also rises from under the stone, and the symbolism of bread prevails throughout the movie. The human battle for survival, the influence of the media and the need for freedom are also seen throughout the movie. There is the rise of the underdog, a common popular thing, and his defiance which changes the world upto an extent, and will define it further. The movie strikes, and it inspires, and Jennifer Lawrence does the rest. This is one movie which makes you think on many lines, and the most significant thought is defiance. Remember the story of the demi-god Theseus and the Minotaur, in which the Minotaur is fed with a certain number of boys and girls from the city, for there are some cycles which need to stop.

Release date: 23rd March 2012
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, Dayo Okeniyi, Isabelle Fuhrman, Alexander Ludwig, Paula Malcomson, Jacqueline Emerson, Leven Rambin, Dayo Okeniyi, Jack Quaid, Amandla Stenberg, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.