Moana

Vampire Owl: I have heard that the name Moana means ocean.

Vampire Bat: This movie is all about ocean.

Vampire Owl: I have even heard that Moana is a Polynesian sea god.

Vampire Bat: What do you know about sea gods?

Vampire Owl: They do not interest me. I am no person of the sea.

Vampire Bat: But we will watch this Oscar nominated movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, this is also for The Rock. I am looking forward to what he is cooking again.

Vampire Bat: He cooks really well, as we have seen in Hercules and The Fast and the Furious series.

Vampire Owl: Lets see if this one is worth the Vampire Oscars.

Vampire Bat: I am already prepared to nominate this one.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with sweet puffs].

What is the movie about? :: The famous demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) steals the heart of the island goddess Te Fiti, which seems to be the key to all life. But he is attacked on the way by a lava demon Te Ka, resulting in him losing his magical fish hook which gives him his powers, and the same also leaves him stranded at an unknown location. This is how the legend goes, and for the Polynesian island of Motunui, this is a common tale that the children are told. They are also forbidden from going beyond a certain point into the sea. Tui (Temuera Morrison), the chief of the island has the opinion that the island has all that they need, and that they should stick to the land. Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of the chief is someone who really wants to explore, but she is also prevented from doing the same.

So, what happens next? :: Soon, the food becomes scarce, as the landscape seems to be dying. There is almost no good fruit to eat, and not much of fish to be caught. Still, sailing beyond the reef remains an act prevented from happening. But Moana’s grandmother Tala (Rachel House), who is supposed to be just a crazy old woman, leads her to a secret cave which shows them that they used to be explorers who traveled through the sea to find new islands. After Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti, the journeys had stopped though, with monsters wandering around the ocean. With Te Ka’s lava and ashes spreading through the islands, there is only one hope – to get the heart to where it really belongs, with the help of Maui. Can she find and persuade the demigod in time to save the islands from the darkness that is spreading?

The defence of Moana :: The big advantage of this movie is that how well it connects and works for both children and the adults. It is the main characters that steal the show in this movie too, with Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson creating the big impact – the latter is a lot funny, closely followed only by the pet that gets into the boat with Moana. The bond between the two leading characters is emotional as well as cute, as you will notice right from the first time they meet. Moana is surely one or more steps ahead of the other animated characters of the same type. The movie nicely uses the Polynesian myth, and it is great to see more and more gods who are parts of different culture, especially those rather unknown. The songs are interesting, just like the simple heroine who keeps making an impact along with her partner in sailing. All the characters and the world look really nice.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing that is entirely new about its tale though, and with its source in the myth, we see the heroine who goes beyond the limitations that are imposed on her. The movie could have also used its beautiful world to an even better effect – we know that we love this world, and it is certain that we need more of it. After all, the scope is limitless with a world full of islands awaiting exploration. The message could have also been even more direct, with the wander lust and the need for adventure to be getting a better spot over mythology. The twist about the demon doesn’t go on to be that effective either. This one doesn’t have that much of flaws to make the viewer wonder, and there is nothing much to complain related to this adventure!

Soul exploration :: The movie’s main message is to search for the unknown, explore, and find new places. Moana goes through faith, belief and hope, and the courage and determination that is required to keep them all there. There is no longer the need for the heroine to chase love, and without romance, the focus is on all adventure and the clear objective that is to be gained for the common good. With sea making the call, and caught up on an island, there is always the need to go out there, and to be with the rest of the world. There are dangers that stay ahead, but it is up to us to go far beyond all of them with the strength that is gained from the experience that is added on the way. We are all caught with one thing or the other, and it seems so difficult in this world with the restrictions and the so called duties that come to us at one point or the other, but we need to go on.

How it finishes :: There is one thing that we can be sure about, after watching Moana. It is that the flick is surely better than the eventual winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature after being a tough contendor – Zootopia. I guess that the judgment went in favour of the cuter one this time; animals get to win over humans. I would consider this one to be better than the last two years’ winners Inside Out and Big Hero 6. The best animated movies of the year rarely get to be the best in the academy awards section, do they? There are only a few exceptions like Frozen. Toy Story 3 won when there was How to Train Your Dragon; Rango won when there was Kung Fu Panda 2; Big Hero 6 won when How to Train Your Dragon 2 was existing; Brave won when Rise of the Guardians was there. Well, Moana also has its list of accolades received – lets try watching it again and again!

Release date: 23rd November 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Oscar Kightley, Troy Polamalu, Puanani Cravalho

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hercules

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Vampire Owl :: But we were expected to have watched Hercules last week, right?

Vampire Bat :: Didn’t they already prove that good movies are prevented from releasing in India or postponed? Remember The Purge Anarchy, Devil’s Due and Deliver us from Evil? They had just taken all the screens for something like Kick.

Vampire Owl :: We were lost last weekend; like Count Dracula who knew about a blood pool and couldn’t find it.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, but the moment has arrived.

Vampire Owl :: So we will finally watch Hercules.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, with 22 Jump Street as a possible substitute in case of a houseful situation.

Vampire Owl :: See what they did with Hercules and delayed us our opportunity last week – this is why we should owlify this world.

Vampire Bat :: In the name of Madras Cafe, Amen, Celluloid, Drishyam, Memories, North 24 Kaatham and The Lunchbox, can you just delay the owlification procedure?

Vampire Owl :: I shall ask the owlifier.

Vampire Bat :: You do that later, now lets check the Rock.

[Enters the movie hall].

What is it about? :: Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) leads a band of mercenaries, Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), and his own nephew, an inexperienced fighter but elegant storyteller Iolaus (Reece Ritchie) through a number of battles and winning them all. The legend is about Hercules being the son of Zeus, who has accomplished the impossible against all odds. His reputation is far beyond anything that is known in the Greek world, matched by nobody else. This makes sure that the princess of Thrace, Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) approaches them with an offer they can’t leave behind, as they are offered as much gold as their weight. They are asked to lead the Thracian army into battle against the barbarians who are supposed to lead by an evil man and his minions. Hercules and his mercenaries run through the enemies only to be confronted by a truth which was never really expected. After this twist, they have to make the decision which will change their paths forever.

The defence of Hercules :: The one thing that one can be sure about is that the movie delivers exactly what it was supposed to bring to the audience. Some might need a little more, but this a lot to be exact. The power-packed performance from the Rock as Hercules is there, and the mythological hero is given some other sides here, and some good companions are also added. There is so much strength in the action sequences, and the wars are nicely depicted and so are the heroic deeds. The 3D is very good especially with Atalanta’s arrows and the monsters around. The CGI with the monsters is also good and the Greek world is nicely re-created, and surely not overdone with splendour. I would say that the delay of this movie release in India actually made the result movie make us feel a lot better. In the end, we are left with the need for the more of the hero or may be a prequel or more about the twelves labours that he achieved. Just some information for the doubters – he is Hercules, a demigod and he can do a lot more than what is shown in this movie – no exaggeration there.

A few troubles :: Those who are not big action fans might find fault with this one, and a prejudice for the WWE superstars will also work against them. Unlike, some of those sons and daughters of superstars who get a free ticket to act in the movies, these people from wrestling entertainment can act very well – keep that in mind. If you don’t like action movies or The Rock, please do not watch this movie, and never even have a look at it and spoil its awesomeness. Its name was already spoiled by another Hercules movie released much earlier this year, in the name of The Legend of Hercules, and that proves how well this movie has managed. Then, if you don’t like the Greek mythology or don’t follow it, care not much about this movie, because you will need to develop some love for the same to enjoy this movie more. Well, if you don’t like this movie, I would guess that you would need to go and watch movies like Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3. May be Bollywood movies will suit you more, with random people performing bigger stunts than a demigod. Otherwise, you can show respect to the action-packed stuff which is this movie and watch it with pride.

Performers of the soul :: There is no one like Dwayne Johnson who is suited for this movie, and there is nobody like the Rock in doing such roles. The former WWE star is one of those people whom I have always thought as the great hero from the Greek mythology. He once again proves why he was among the greatest entertainers in the history of professional wrestling and at the top of the WWE chart. He often becomes bigger than most of the other things in the movie. He has such a great screen presence and his physique helps him in being the incredibly strong demigod. The next person whom one will notice will be Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Atalanta, the huntress making a powerful impact with her arrows which are shot with such speed and accuracy that this character often takes over a lot of action. She is another perfect fit for the character. Irina Shayk has only a small role as Hercules’ wife unlike expected. Ian McShane has some nice funny moments there, and Rebecca Ferguson is quite appropriate for the role of the princess even as there is not too much there to do. The other companions of Hercules are pretty good too.

Soul exploration :: Even as I have always preferred Achilles among the Greek heroes just like most of the people would, there was always something about Hercules and Odysseus, a lot more than a few others like Perseus, Thesues and Jason for sure. My interest for Hercules was there not only in his brutal strength and his demigod status, but also in his suffering. Along with his adventures known as the the Twelve Labours of Hercules, he has suffered a lot, and never had the great status as some other heroes did. He was never a greatly revered general or a king, but a man who went through a lot of trouble to accomplish some of the tasks considered impossible. Even among the monsters, there is nothing more interesting to me than Hydra. The physical strength element is there, and so is the divine side, but he achieved something even the gods of the times would have doubted on achieving. The demigod side is rather brought down in this movie, and Hercules here is rather made more mortal, bleeding and even captured and beaten up, and as he goes on with his companions, there is nobody who is considered as a lesser mortal among the group. This newly achieved mortality is rather a nice addition to this movie.

How it finishes :: This movie is as strong as its own hero and the man who leads the cast. The strength of the Rock as the powerful character as well as his own image is reflected in this movie. The Rock has made his best comeback as the hero right here. It is what the action movie fans have always hoped for, and it is what this movie delivers. It releases with 22 Jump Street here, but I would choose an action movie with The Rock in it instead of some stupid comedy with added adult stuff which had an overrated first part – I got a feeling that I might like that one too though. If you haven’t read much of such mythological tales, it might be time you read some. If you are looking for some simple re-telling of the Greek mythological stories, I would recommend Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green – a part of Puffin Classics available in India. With the tagline “Walk amongst the gods and men”, this book gives a quick and easy reading of the tales of Hercules (Heracles), Theseus, Atalanta, Prometheus and many others. Well, I am surprised about what some of the Indian reviewers are writing about this movie, and I hope they continue enjoying some “extra special” Bollywood movies.

Release date: 1st August 2014 (India); 25th July 2014 (US)
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Irina Shayk, Ian McShane, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, John Hurt, Aksel Hennie, Reece Ritchie, Rebecca Ferguson, Steve Peacocke, Joe Anderson, Tamina Snuka, Barbara Palvin, Tobias Santelmann

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wrath of the Titans

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✠ It was in 2010 that my favourite movie based on Greek mythology released, in the form of Clash of the Titans – but I have to admit that I haven’t watched many movies based on that mythology. The 2011 version, Immortals was strictly okay. Even as my love for Greek mythology goes as far as my childhood with such stories easily available in a local version in the nearby library, the love was extended to something better in the first half of the 2000s with that city building game called Zeus: Master of Olympus. Despite the similar games Pharaoh and Caesar III, this was the game which stole my time, and the fact that it was based on the mythology helped, just like in the case of Age of Mythology. Wrath of the Titans is that sequel which falls somewhat behind from its predecessor, and has not many things to boast about. Otherwise, it could have come up with an extraordinary box-office performance, that is for sure.

Count Dracula: You had to watch that? I heard that the gods die in the movie. I couldn’t stand that after watching Immortals. They call themselves immortals and they die, isn’t it the same case with Wrath of the Titans? I guess I am the true immortal of this world, and about the other dimensions, I shall speak not.

Vampire Bat: Immortality is losing soil right from underneath its feet. The main culprit is the use or rather the abuse of vampire mythology in the works like Twilight. The ridiculous glorification of immortality has lead to at least some people having a certain feeling against it, and it seems that Immortals and Wrath of the Titans have tried to hold onto that aversion towards immortality by killing those gods who were supposed to be immortals. Now the gods die and random pale teenagers with bad teeth lives forever with strange pacts, ideas and a love story which should qualify as the wonder blunder of the world.

Count Dracula: I am glad that you didn’t call them vampires. Yes, they are blood suckers and not vampires. They belong to a breed of mosquitoes. They are also indirectly killing not only the vampire franchise, but also many others, and the Greek mythology is also one of them. I won’t even talk about the other group walking on four legs. It is beyond hope, but still what is it in Wrath of the Titans?

Vampire Bat: This movie’s incidents happen many years after the events of the first movie, as the gods keeping on losing power and they almost lose control over the imprisoned Titans until Ares and Hades turns against the other gods and make the process complete. Zeus is captured and kept a prisoner as Kronos slowly awakes and Poseidon dies. The other gods are not even in the fight, as Hephaestus is the only one who is there to show himself. If you are looking for gods, you better play the game Zeus: Master of Olympus.

Count Dracula: I have never seen that horrible gods as those in Immortals. In that movie, when it was known that Luke Evans was Zeus, I thought that he was just a crazy guy who lived in one of those caves. I would rather not see them if I have to witness them like that. I would still miss Aphrodite though. They could have also had Athena and Artemis, as the only divine creature I liked in Immortals was Isabel Lucas’ Athena. I wondered how it would have been if Freida Pinto played an immortal.

Vampire Bat: We don’t even get to see Gemma Arterton, as her character is declared dead. Alexa Davalos is also missing, as Rosamund Pike becomes Andromeda, something which doesn’t seem to fit as a whole. Sienna Miller or Rachel Nichols might have been a better choice as this time the lady is more of a warrior princess rather than the damsel in distress. My imagination of Andromeda is completely destroyed by this movie.

Count Dracula: Well, if you consider the destruction of the images in my mind caused by Immortals, there will be too long a list. They are all trying to deviate from the mythology that we have read. Even Percy Jackson was closer to mythology than the so called mythological movies. Why would you even watch a movie based on mythology after such a setback?

Vampire Bat: The special effects are excellent, and what it misses out on the story, it tries to make up with the graphics and the action sequences. May be some of our literature postgraduates can come up with a better story than this one which has quite a useless Zeus and Poseidon, a more wasted Hephaestus and a strange Ares along with a Hades with clear psychological problems making it almost impossible for him to do the right thing or even the wrong thing. Perseus and Andromeda doesn’t even seem to belong to the world. It is still that visual extravaganza that you can watch on the big screen.

Count Dracula: It has Sam Worthington as Perseus, and that should be its best advantage. One can guess that without even going near that movie. Whenever he is there, one can feel that there will be something there to look out for. I am not an Avatar fan, but if someone can save a movie with his presence even without many people of a land knowing the name of the actor, it is him.

Vampire Bat: Yes, he does save the movie just like Perseus saves the world. Rosamund Pike also does the same, not as Andromeda, but more as a warrior princess or a fighter queen who has come to aid whoever tries to save humanity. Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson are given what might be their worst characters ever, and why would they need these two to play those characters is so strange. May be as the characters are like that, these two were needed to make it any good. This is such a shame that monsters of this movie saves the day for the viewers while the gods ruin the same – the exact opposite of what happens in the movie.

Count Dracula: I would rather like the movie for being what might be the last movie based on Greek mythology for a very long time. Everyone needs a dose of Greek mythology, not considering Percy Jackson which is a different take. The love for monsters is a thing of this age. This is an age of no faith, and people tend to like monsters more than gods and pretend that they don’t believe in both. Trust me when I say this from my experience – it is not in human nature to be good, and without civilization, they are nothing. It is the beliefs and the faith in God that keeps them good, and the bad are only those who deviate from faith.

Vampire Bat: I agree, as there is no pillar for faith in this age. I have to struggle with my set of beliefs very often because there is always an attempt to brainwash people into believing that there is no God, and there is no evil. People are denied the chance to live in faith, and we are glad to be part of a nation which has more faith in the supreme power than any other. The weakening of the gods with the loss of faith of humans is a parallel to the recession and the financial problems which Europe and America have faced due to the loss of faith, and the nations with faith are improving. Without faith, you are nothing – even Zeus was nothing.

Count Dracula: Exactly my thoughts. I am a man who has seen almost all wars which you have studied about. None of those wars were actually religious wars. There were just people who lost faith in God and went for material achievements. They never conquered anything for God. They did it for themselves and to enjoy their life on Earth. I have seen into their mind and they had only “Carpe Diem” in their mind. Most of them didn’t really believe in me, and it is such a shame. I lose my confidence when they loss faith in me. Then I can only transform into a little toothless black cat!

Vampire Bat: That comparison is one of those things which I could find. Hades is more like the devil, feeding from the fears of man, but he is also that fallen angel whom Milton told us about. We would love to see such a movie being made based on Paradise Lost, and the fact that the Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Lucifer will no longer happen is such a shame. The movie could have taken the movie experience to greater heights, something which Noah might succeed in a limited manner. But nothing like angels and demons fighting a war and their leader delivering those speeches. Not even Kraken, Chimera, Cyclops, Minotaur and Kronos together could have stood a chance.

Count Dracula: They can rather develop an original mythology based on my life. Yes, I have fought my battles and my tale has one of the best stories ever, which can be developed into a mythology. I know you would still rate this high enough, and I might also do the same, even with that knowledge that this is an unwanted sequel.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it shall get a 70/100 for its special effects, 3D, the leading actor, use of whatever mythology they can, the action sequences, the monsters and bringing a different idea on gods and ending the franchise for good. That will be good?

Count Dracula: Yes, I think it is. Well, it is time for me to go to the Goblin Market and sharpen my fangs. Good bye, my brother in fangs.

Vampire Bat (to himself): Wrath of the Titans is a lot like its predecessor and it has only a few new things. If this movie was the first of the franchise, the whole thing could have been better, and as a stand-alone version, this scores better. There is a lot of monster stuff for the fans of Greek mythology stories, but that hasn’t really helped, and that much we can easily figure out from the way the responses have been.

Wrath of the Titans will not improve your impression about movies based on mythology, and it won’t make you better with greater knowledge of Greek mythology. Don’t consider it your spark-notes, but watch it for the visual treat that it has to offer with special effects and action sequences. Also, look out for the labyrinth. Lets hope for Hercules: The Thracian Wars to be great, even as it is more of a comic based adventure rather than having a strong base in Greek mythology. We might need a lot more than just a random mythological story to come up with a perfect demigod story. There is the need for a lot more, and the lack of popularity of Wrath of the Titans is no real surprise. For now, we can adjust with this movie, and compared to Immortals, this is a much better choice, and scores as being among the best of its kind (mostly due to not many movies of the kind being released).

Release date: 30th March 2012
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Édgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.