Rogue One

Vampire Owl: The title of this movie has already made me think about Rogue Two.

Vampire Bat: It is the problem due to thinking too much about sequels. I don’t think that there will be another Rogue, as this is supposed to be a spin-off standing alone.

Vampire Owl: Some movies have too many sequels anyway. I can’t even remember when I first heard about Star Wars. Maybe we should see the rings and live only for seven days, so that the memory works better.

Vampire Bat: It is something that goes beyond centuries for humans, so I have heard.

Vampire Owl: But it hasn’t been that much known throughout the world, I wonder why.

Vampire Bat: Well, even Star Trek became popular only in the last few years – before that they had copied the same to make Captain Vyom.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I remember that it had such an uncomfortable timing that I ended up missing the food provided for many wedding, betrothal and house warming functions for watching it.

Vampire Bat: But, during those times, we never knew the original.

Vampire Owl: Star Wars was more popular than Star Trek during those days.

Vampire Bat: Now, there is the twist – everyone we love around here loves Star Trek more.

[Gets three cups of breakfast tea with a piece of orange cake].

What is the movie about? :: Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), an expert in weapons research is hiding on a planet, away from the dictatorship called Empire and its sinister motives which include but are not limited to enslavement of people. Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), who is in charge of the weapons research for the Imperial Military Force finds him and forces him to build a superweapon called the Death Star, which is capable of destroying planets from a long distance away, thus giving supreme power to the Empire. While his daughter is saved by the wanted rebel and an extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), his wife is killed by the Empire in the conflict. Galen is left with no other way, and is forced to go with Orson to provide his expertise, while Saw and his forces continue to resist the Empire which only grows stronger and stronger with time, while the rebels focused on newer methods to take down the Empire.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Years later, a cargo pilot of the Empire, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) turns to the side of the rebels, as he brings a message from Galen to Saw, and he is captured by the extremist rebels. Meanwhile, Jyn Esro (Felicity Jones) who is a prisoner of the Empire, gets rescued by a rebel officer, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who takes her to the rest of the rebels, and there, they convince her to find more about her father and the Death Star so that they can make good use of the information; their true intention is to kill him though. They will be joined by a re-programmed droid from the Empire, a blind but skilled warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his fighter friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) who would have more than what they could handle on a normal day. Can they figure out Galen’s message, find him and stop the Death Star before it begins destroying the rebel bases, or even the planets on which they stand? Is there hope against the Empire which stands so strong?

The defence of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story :: Despite it not becoming that much of a popular thing here, this movie continues in the path set by its predecessors in the franchise, and does the same thing again, and provides the entertainment beyond the known world. Well, Star Wars is something that doesn’t age, and can go on to make more and more sequels, and shall continue to become success for many years to come. The message about rebellion continues, as the dictatorship also continues to do what it has been doing. The nostalgic feeling should work for those who had grown up watching Star Wars – those VCR and VCP days had more than one cassette of this franchise, with the first Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; these used to be the special movies which looked too good, but not many people had watched them. The visuals and the special effects are too good, and you are going to love the final battle scene for sure, with all the splendour. Well, a stand-alone spin-off Star Wars movie is good to keep you strong while waiting for the next flick.

The claws of flaw :: The lack of popularity of Star Wars around here has hurt the possibilities with a lot of people no aware of how this series is progressing; about where it all began, where everything is going, and who all are these people, you wonder – well, not many people who have watched those earlier Star Wars movies are there to watch the newer flicks in the theatres, you know, and a stand-alone spin-off will only confuse them. Well, if people are confused about this, you can’t blame them, and they can only enjoy parts of this one in that case. Also, the one point to note is that there is not much of a change or variety in proceedings in this movie, as this becomes more Star Wars, rather than bringing a new special element. Star Wars: Force Awakens was certainly a better movie than this, and it seemed to try to be something by itself unlike this one which goes on and on with its usual stuff. Also, its attempt to work on the nostalgia that we have for this movie works not that much with the audience here. The emotional side is rather weak.

Soul exploration :: Well, Star Wars has always been about the rebellion against the dictatorship, as we had felt a long time ago. But during those times, the need was not this strong, and with a lot of things forced on us for no meaningful reason, one has to wonder if we are all the rebels against that part of the society which steals our individuality from us, for which new rules are made; when rules are not really made for people, and it is just for a certain group of people, we wonder if this situation in Star Wars is not so different from what we have now. There is so much hate in the world that hope seems too far away, as far as the stars are. Star Wars also has the message of hope, and battling against all odds. But how strong is everyman against the troops which are controlled by fascism which threatens to destroy not just worlds, but also the idea from the minds of the people? Star Wars movies keep bringing that hope in one way or the other, against the mighty Empire which would call for fake patriotism and not rebellion, but revolution happens in one way or the other.

How it finishes :: As it is clear for many people, people in India are not really much of fans for the Star Wars franchise, even though I remember having watched the series, and becoming interested in the same – I was among a few people who did, for Star Wars surely had no takers in the schools, tuition classes or even among the cousins. The presence of some of the Star Wars games was what helped me further to keep the interest alive, and while those earlier games had the Jedi Knight hero, there was also Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds which provided the feeling of playing Age of Empires II: Age of Kings again. Even though it keeps making so much money in the United States, and maybe also in Europe as well as other English-speaking nations, it would have to try hard to make it work better in India for better collections – but you never get bored of watching a Star Wars movie as far as I am concerned, and I have enjoyed watching this one too. We await the real sequel of Star Wars: Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi releases with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega after this one from the director of Godzilla. So, may the force be with you.

Release date: 16th December 2016
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Jimmy Smits, Genevieve O’Reilly, Anthony Daniels

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Elysium

elysium (1)

So here comes the movie which I have been waiting for, since the day it released in the United States, and then again starting another big wait from the day in released in the United Kingdom. This was also the movie I was looking forward to watch in 2013, after Pacific Rim. Other than the presence of Matt Damon, the other interesting thing about this movie was what was told in the brief summary associated with it, and surely that name. The name was quite familiar in relation to some of the stories related to Greek mythology which I had come across during my childhood. Yes, that varied vision of paradise had left a mark, and here is that name revisited through this movie, not as what comes after afterlife, but all the same which are enjoyed during this life. The movie is set in 2154, when a group of wealthy people left the Earth after coming to know that their kind had destroyed the planet with greed and lavishness. With all the resources that remained on Earth, they created Elysium, a luxurious space station just outside the planet’s orbit to live a life free of disease and pollution. The lived a life of comfort assisted by robots and superior medical care, while the people of Earth were made to live on a devastated land, policed by robots sent from Elysium and deprived of their rights.

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) is a former criminal on parole working in Armadyne, the same company which built Elysium. But he is exposed to lethal radiation during an accident and is left with just five days to live. All is not well in Elysium either, as Elysian Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a mercenary on her payroll, Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to shoot down civilian shuttles full of illegal immigrants trying to make it to the city of their dreams. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) condemns her action on the basis of human rights which leads to a cold war between the two. As Jessica looks forward to having more power and keeping it, makes a deal with Armadyne’s CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner) to create a program that can shut down, reboot and override Elysium’s central computer in order to make her the new President. Carlyle creates the program in his office on Earth, encrypts it and uploads it to his brain so that he could take it back to Elysium for secret deployment. With the help of his friend Julio (Diego Luna), Max seeks help from a skilled smuggler Spider (Wagner Moura) to go to Elysium and get cured, to which Spider asks for Max to steal some information from Carlyle. He agrees, and supported by an enforced exoskeleton, he goes on a mission which could change the life of a lot of people.

Coming from Neill Blomkamp who gave us District 9, this movie is somewhat a let-down, and it struggles to keep its standard as high as that wonderful flick. Still, it is certain that the base of both of these movies are the same, and both deals with somewhat the same issue, which is the difference between the oppressor and the oppressed, the privileged and the under-privileged, the powerful and the subaltern. The 2009 movie had aliens coming to Earth and living on the planet only to become second-rate citizens, while our 2013 movie has humans going to a space station and making the rest of their kind second-rate citizens or rather the lesser species – almost the same thing. The protagonist is from the subaltern group this time though. Both are about the horrible divide between people, sometimes about the rich and the poor, and otherwise racial or ethnic in nature. The evil of the multinational corporations as well as the government funded policing of groups which are different in some way or the other, also exists. Elysium makes a good attempt to carry on that idea of divide which formed the skeleton of District 9, and adds more elements of science fiction and powers it using the expensive fuel of post-apocalyptic fiction which sells, and in the process it hurts the inner core.

This is undoubtedly Matt Damon’s movie, and one has to doubt it would have worked this well without him. In the dystopic future where Earth has become nothing more than a big slum of devastated towers and a collection of small ghettos. He plays a former criminal who wishes to go to Elysium so that he could save his own life, but later he transforms into something more, as the saviour of not only his friend’s daughter, but also of millions who can’t afford the riches of the new first world. He is a confused revolutionary and a saviour who doesn’t decide his change, but rather it happens to him. He becomes what the nun who raised him had told him when he was a child – for he became someone special, an act which is supported by flashbacks which works, but not the way the audience might have wanted. This might be his best performance since the first three movies in the Bourne series. The character should have done better with a little more attention to his thoughts and change rather than just making him change as if it was there in him since childhood. Surely, he could have had more to work with, and this movie’s overuse of brain has seriously worked against the character of Max, which could have been drawn from another level.

I am rather surprised that Jodie Foster is not the main villain in the movie, as I thought this was going to be her wonderful performance in the form of another great villain, from what it seemed in the trailer. We wanted that villain, and in the beginning stages of the movie, we also get the feeling that it is how it is going to be. It is a shame that she doesn’t impress at all this time. But there would be Sharlto Copley rather than Jodie in a performance which is quite strange even though good. But this is one character who shouldn’t have had this much screen presence even as the man seems to live in the character and keep it a level above most of the movie. In a movie which is something more than a science fiction, this is not the main villain we want, for this is a more suitable secondary villain character. The need for a more powerful in intellect and yet normal in muscular strength villain was there, and this need is not fulfilled. Its good to see Alice Braga after her last action movie Predators, to which I hope there will be a sequel. She plays the childhood friend of Max, and the one who has a deep impact on him. Despite the smaller screen presence, she makes a very good impact. William Fichtner could have made a great major villain, but his character dies too early for us to get a glimpse of a possible evil. He still symbolizes the corporate evil, the power of the multi-national entities which became inter-planetary entities.

There is action and there is the hidden theme of the lack of humanity and the division between humans. But the action is mostly of inferior quality and the social message is not that powerful as one would expect to. I would consider Oblivion a far better flick intellectually, and District 9 a far more effective movie with its social message. As far as entertainment is considered this won’t be a Star Trek: Into Darkness nor a Prometheus visually. Elysium is another one of those escapist fantasies for sure, but its bridge towards the social message is not that much a perfectly crafted link. Another factor should be that of blood and gore which comes in abundance here, and gets itself an adult certificate with the same, but still doesn’t manage to do it well enough. One has to applaud the visuals though, as the world of Elysium as well as that of Earth are well-detailed, and the robots as well as the flying machines are well-designed and works very fine. The action sequences are lesser, but still not too exaggerated. The movie’s confusion about where it belongs is clearly reflected in all those things which happen throughout its own little world. One has to applaud the idea, but still be confused about its effect on oneself, and how to think about this movie. The emotion couldn’t be felt deep enough, and my friend had recommended a seventy three for this, but I thought I should add a little more to the rating.

While the movie drags a bit, and keeps itself in a loop in which it gently repeats itself, there is still enough in its soul to keep us interested and make a good influence. The only movie of this year to which the action of this movie can be compared is World War Z; yes not to Oblivion which had another post-apocalyptic world with a supposed colony of humans in another place as Earth has gone down due to many forces of destruction (a theory which is proved wrong in a twist of fate which is found later). This drags like World War Z and gets the loop working as the same movie. This could have done with a better route in the script, and Jodie Foster as a different, but still the major villain. It is sad that all the potential had this movie only up-to this level – no, I am still glad to have watched this movie, but this should have been a great work on the screen, but it has missed that opportunity, and that is kind of saddening. May be they could have stuck to one thing in this movie rather than making it a masala social message, or may be there could have been a better balance; I wouldn’t be sure, but let me tell you that I was hoping to come out ready to give an eighty to eighty nine for this movie out of hundred, and seventy seven is a disappoint if we look at it that way.

Release date: 27th September 2013 (India); 21st August 2013 (UK)
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Alice Braga, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Tremblay, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Valentina Giros, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir

elysiums copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.