Antlers

Vampire Owl: I haven’t seen a more interesting poster in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Horror does need such posters to show divergence in fear.

Vampire Owl: Fear should always be the same, right?

Vampire Bat: Unless you are a vampire, or maybe zombie.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about a different smell of fear.

Vampire Bat: You should be aware of the fear potions of the witches.

Vampire Owl: Those potions never really work.

Vampire Bat: I know that you trust the pseudo-scientific elixirs of Mr Frankenstein better.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has opened portals with elixirs.

Vampire Bat: Those were ancient portals found hidden in the caves beneath the castle!

[Gets a red velvet cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the beginning, there is a warning that Mother Earth has been pillaged, with her life’s blood taken away, and this terrible act has awakened a spirit which needs to be feared – it would seek the lost, frail and the depraved, and asks the viewers to hope and pray that it won’t take one among them. The scene cuts to Cispus Falls, a small town in Oregon which feels dark with an eerie feeling. There, in an inactive mine, Frank Weaver (Scott Haze) runs a meth lab within an inactive mine which used to serve the town’s economy a long time ago. Frank and his co-worker hears some strange noises from within the mine, and goes on to check the same. As they doubt that it is an animal and tries to escape, find themselves attacked by an unseen creature. Frank’s son Aiden Weaver (Sawyer Jones) waits for him outside the mine, failing to understand what has happened inside. His elder brother as Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T Thomas) is considered to be strange by his classmates and teachers, but Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) who teaches about myths and fables is determined to help him.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Julia remembers the abuse she suffered as a child in the hands of her alcoholic father who was also mentally ill – she feels that he is also suffering from something similar. Paul Meadows (Jesse Plemons), her brother is the local sheriff – she had abandoned him a long time ago, but has now returned home from California following the death of their father. She feels that she shouldn’t have left the place, and tries to help another person as she can, this time, Lucas. She tries to bond with him, but there is no success at all – she tries to visit his house, but leaves after hearing some strange noises from inside. Lucas seems to have some some mystery locked within his house, and also takes dead animals and birds to his home. He stays awake at night and makes strange drawings. Julia feels that she really needs to get to the bottom of this, and also informs her brother, who reaffirms that Frank was considered fit to be the guardian of the two children after the mother’s death – now, what would she do?

The defence of Antlers :: It can be seen that Antlers does take the deviation from the usual horror, and this divergence is taken seriously throughout its narrative – it lets the surroundings contribute to the same really well. The environment and the setting serve effectively for the movie too. The small town with its dark and wet weather really suits the situation presented around here, and there is enough of the woods to keep one going in the mood of terror. The idea of the “diabolic wickedness that devours humans”, the spirit that takes many forms, makes a powerful myth around here. There is also a connection made to the destruction of nature which the humans managed to come up with. One wouldn’t be able to blame the monsters considering how evil the humans happen to be at every point. We also have the moments of scares, and that gets stronger with the understanding that there is a seemingly unstoppable force of nature at work. Add the performance, especially from children, and things only get much darker and scarier in nature.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Antlers had the premise to be something greater, but doesn’t use the same to the best of advantage. We do see the moments which we feel could have been better. When you have such a near-unstoppable monster at the centre, there are many things that can be done – it could have surely been designed better too. The emotional side doesn’t seem to work that much, even though we are waiting for those elements to be effective too. The myth could have also been given a boost with certain elements from the past, and a history to be remembered. One can generate enough fear out of that too. The scope for sequel at the end seems to be forced, as if there was a certain need rather than anything else. One can feel the need to remind the viewer of a myth that goes missing, but that requires more of a better origins story with roots in a mysterious past – let the horror run through there too.

The performers of the soul :: Keri Russell has been among my favourite actresses from a long time ago – she carries a certain amount of charm with her roles, even though horror hasn’t been the genre we would remember her the most for. She would make it to the list of performers who don’t seem to age much as years pass. She blends in really well as this protagonist who has her own problems from childhood itself. Jesse Plemons supports her really well as the brother figure and the policeman. Jeremy T Thomas gets his moments as the struggling child who is forced to make too many decisions at such a young age. Scott Haze gets into the terrifying moments around here well. Sawyer Jones plays the other child of significance in a role which brings a fair challenge to him. Amy Madigan ends up having a smaller role to work with than what was expected. Rory Cochrane’s work is another thing of support here. The monster when shown, works as a performer by itself.

How it finishes :: Antlers keeps on moving the world of horror forward in a different path for a change, and the world of fear continues to make its points in one way or the other. One does feel that the Malayalam movie Odiyan could have learned a few things from this one with the creature attacks and the atmosphere to make it darker – if you see the looks, there seems to a visual connection. The earlier divergent horror movies like Malignant, Lights Out, It Follows and Don’t Breathe had scored better, but this one tries to make it count. Maybe, something like the creature in this movie is the need of environment itself to take care of the humans who are destroying nature as we have known it. Well, Corona virus did try, but they were not successful in getting rid of humanity and its use of science to destroy environment. It does make us feel that there can be the moment when nature can get it back running – The Blackout surely made us think about human extinction. Until something like that happens, let us enjoy this horror out of nature.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Theatre); 15th December 2021 (Hotstar)
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cinderella

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Vampire Owl :: You know that I can’t watch Cinderella.

Vampire Bat :: What? From where did you find a reason this time?

Vampire Owl :: It is one of those Happily Ever After stories. I don’t believe in that. And vampire owls don’t read fairy tales.

Vampire Bat :: But it has enough changes making the movie different.

Vampire Owl :: I have known changes, like in Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, Maleficent and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Vampire Bat :: No, not like them. There is no darker interpretation for this one, and there are no monsters or black magic.

Vampire Owl :: I think you should have watched Focus instead of this one. Without the dark side, this is like children’s movie.

Vampire Bat :: No, the story has evolved; it is made better without losing the core.

Vampire Owl :: I have absolutely no idea what you meant by that.

Vampire Bat :: I say that you read my review and see if you still want to skip this movie.

[Leaves for the tea shop].

What is it about? :: The great fairy-tale gets another treatment as things change for Ella (Lily James) with the death of her mother and everything gets a lot worse with her father’s second marriage which is followed by his death. The new step-mother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), who comes to reside with them along with the two daughters of her own, Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) turns out to be very unlike someone they were expecting as a mother figure. The two sisters were not any better either, as they detested her and the new house; even their new cat Lucifer proves to be an enemy for Ella’s rat friends. As the attitude of the new mother gets worse everyday, Ella who is now called Cinderella due to her life close to the cinders, our protagonist only has the faith in magic, as well as her belief in courage and kindness to bring her the twist to her tale.

The defence of Cinderella :: Among the fairy-tales, Cinderella is surely not the easy one to adapt and come up successful because the idea of a Prince Charming and the thoughts about the evil step-mother won’t sell that easily these days for the adults, and it is too simple a story and not something that can have too many additions without affecting the essence. This is a season when the new age evil want to shoot down Prince Charming because he is a good person; some people really can’t stand extra goodness because it is not in them. During such a season, this movie manages to rise and fly high, for which a lot of applause is deserved. With an amazing world already made with splendour, what you should keep in mind is that this is still a fairy-tale, and the soul goes directly to the original story. You have to keep that in mind, and keep a part of your mind for believing in magic.

Positives and Negatives :: Unless you have had a highly uninteresting and ridiculous childhood, you are going to love this movie. Yes, Cinderella is also nostalgia, and you have to repsect your own past without which you are nothing – remember and admire those tales which shaped your early lives. It is a fairy tale and if you want Cinderella to be too much like a modern age character, go and stick to your limited list of movies – but let me tell you; this is the best portrayal of Cinderella ever. Yes, the fairy godmother needed more screen-time and polishing, and there could have been a little more of interactions between Cinderella, sisters and the step-mother added. But then you see the costumes, especially that of Cinderella going for her moment with the prince – it is stunning, and how good Lilly James looks in the same makes one wonder if Cinderella is indeed real.

Performers of the soul :: Lily James is stunning as Cinderella, and it is like she beautifully carves herself into the character. There is the scene when she is magically dressed in that stunningly beautiful blue dress, and you need to think of nobody else as the titular character. Then there is her again in another blue dress, this time a normal one by the end – here she is the happy young girl and she looks amazing there. She completely takes over all those emotional moments, whether it is of sadness, joy, hopelessness, love or sympathy, and it is a blessing for the audience to see her as Cinderella on the big screen. Then there is Cate Blanchett with a believable step-mother role which she does to perfection, and the two sisters are also very good here. Richard Madden is a fine Prince Charming and Helena Bonham Carter needed to be there for more, but is fine when she is there, and the narration is interesting.

Soul exploration :: Selflessness, sympathy, forgiveness and simplicity which Cinderella displays in this movie are something rarely seen in this world. The tale once again tells the story of the protagonist who is mistreated, rising above the limitations. No, this is not a story of one girl, but of a large number of men and women who are mistreated because of any reason. Prince Charming is just a symbol of glory in attainment; it could have been anybody else, like Princess Beautiful or any other thing which can be personified into something else. But the fact remains that the movie brings that idea to us only by polishing this movie and keeping the soul of this fairy tale alive. It could have gone darker like in Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, Maleficent and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, but chooses to keep the soul the same, and still make that great impact. And yes, do believe in some good magic.

How it finishes :: Along with all those things for which you admire Disney, add this one to that list. There was also a short animation movie called Frozen Fever which worked like a little sequel to Frozen – it was shown before this movie, and there were no usual trailers. As it comes with Cinderella, Anna and Elsa makes things perfect with the birthday pary of the former. “Making Today a Perfect Day” is not “Let it Go”, but it is still so much fun with out favourite characters right there on the screen. Disney never ceases to bring more and more magic to us, right? This was such a nice pleasant surprise for the audience and everyone seemed to love it. You can add Cinderella to your list of best Disney movies without much thinking twice about it. The fact that it still stays at the theatres even after two big Malayalam movies released, points to the truth that it is special. Courage and kindness – take these two things home from Cinderella.

Release date: 20th March 2015 (India); 13th March 2015 (US)
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgård, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Sophie McShera, Hayley Atwell, Helena Bonham Carter

cinderella

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Big Hero 6

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Vampire Owl :: I am still suffering from a certain amount of brain damage after watching Interstellar.

Vampire Bat :: Nolan added Physics into that movie because he know that we have all hated our Physics teachers and it is almost everybody’s least favourite subject along with Mathematics. I do feel that the movie has added Physics to my list of degrees without telling me.

Vampire Owl :: Free degree, that is cool. Actually, do you even remember any of our Physics teachers?

Vampire Bat :: No, I don’t, and I shall never remember. Even after I tried harder for the same, I was always let down by it. But Chemistry has worked the other way around for me. I was so shocked by my scores for the subject that I wanted to faint and prove it.

Vampire Owl :: Do you think that this movie will have Physics?

Vampire Bat :: Not as much as Interstellar, I am sure. They will at least speak in English rather than in a nerd language this time.

Vampire Owl :: Thank God that we are partial nerds then.

Vampire Bat :: That should be why we enjoyed Interstellar, especially when our imaginations go to space as well as the other dimensions every day.

Vampire Owl :: Is it just an illusion or does it actually seem like a How to Train your Dragon: Robot Version?

Vampire Bat :: I think we should watch this and check. It has managed to gain so much of critical appreciation.

[Starts the car].

The background :: Big Hero 6 comes from a group of superheroes which were part of Marvel Comics. But the differences are there, no doubt about that. This becomes the first movie to feature characters from Marvel comics and builds hype as from the makers of Frozen and Wreck it Ralph! – something which will draw in plenty of comparisons. This is also the sixth big animated movie released in this year at this part of the world after Mr. Peabody and Sherman, The Lego Movie, How to Train your Dragon, Rio 2 and Planes: Fire and Rescue – I have watched all except the last. People might think that this is not the right weekend to release an animated movie as it has to face the powerful Interstellar in a battle of David and Goliath, especially when in the modern world, David has very less chance to win. But it is not always about one thing or two when it comes to movies, isn’t it? Which is why Big Hero 6 could keep itself working well enough when facing such a big nemesis.

What is it about? :: Set in the fictional world of San Fransokyo (kind of like San Francisco and Tokyo in a combo), Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) spends his time attempting to participate in illegal robot fights. He is an expert in robotics, and his brother Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Tenney) feels that he is wasting his potential by doing such worthless things outside law. So, he shows his little brother his university and the robotics laboratory where he and his friends are achieving marvellous things under the experienced Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell). Hiro is highly impressed and is desperate to the get into the university, for which he invents something called microbots which can transform into anything, and can be controlled using telepathy. He is accepted into the university, but a fire breaks out and his brother is killed, which leaves him in permanent grief. But soon, with the help of his brother’s robot Baymax (Scott Adsit), he attempts to find the man who might be responsible for the death of his brother.

The defence of Big Hero 6 :: Here is what you expect from an animated movies in the right quantities, nothing too much and not really missing out anywhere. The comedy works most of the time, but is more limited to the main robot and less to the rest. The movie is all fun and entertainment too, visually looking very good and having some very nice action sequences which are overtaken by the emotional ones which are even better. The world is nicely detailed with different architectural combinations, and the characters are also nice and pretty much likable, with one extremely lovable robot at the centre of everything. The superheroes are nicely created and the supervillain also looks impressive. Well, this one is light, easy to follow and connect, as well as lovely to watch on the big screen, and what more would you need in an animated movie? Big Hero 6 surely scores here, and deserves the whole family in the theatre. Well, it isn’t accompanied by the hype such as Interstellar got, so it can only be a clear winner. I would expect a sequel to hit the theatres soon, as this origin story is now established.

The Claws of flaw :: It follows the usual animated movie policy and doesn’t try to innovate too much, may be due to the fear that it will repel the family audience which is supposed to be its strength. There is too much of a predictable plot, very unlike Mr. Peabody and Sherman which had its nice additions to bring twists to the story. Even the small suspense about the identity of the villain is also predictable up-to an extent, and we almost know most of the things that are going to happen before they do. May be the kids, and those who are new to the genre might not guess that well, but it is so. The usual things that happen include the loss of a loved one, revenge, team of superheroes and a big villain which is the setup too many movies that we have known in this genre. The humour is also not as good as some other animated movies in comparison, and the 3D not that much up-to the mark. Too many movies with similar factors have happened, and our hero with his robot is a lot like another hero with his dragon, and that also happened this year for the second time. May be the villain also could have taken up a better characterization and backstory?

Soul exploration :: Big Hero 6 is not better than Frozen, and it is a clear fact, expect for some irritating fan-boys and girls saying that it is so without any particular reason. It is not better than Mr. Peabody and Sherman which is the best animated movie of 2014 as it stands now, and stands below many other animated titles. But we cannot deny the emotional power of this movie, and its message of friendship and brotherhood, and the call to use one’s skills and abilities for others. The fact remains that the one non-human character in the movie, the robot is the one who spreads all these messages and by influencing the humans around it to heal and not to hurt, that brings out the truth that humans always need someone else to tell them what is right and what is wrong, as they are too much affected by the bad emotions and not that much by the right ones. Yes, this robot is one positive role-model for everyone, and the other movie at the theatres now, Interstellar has none even as it is superior in many ways. May be it is time to get a Baymax robot action figure for a change – we have had too many transforming robots already!

How it finishes :: Big Hero 6 has been the surprise package of the weekend while Interstellar is just doing as it was expected to perform, and there are even some who had expected a lot more from that movie – Christpher Nolan is that kind of person. But our movie is the silent assassin here, coming up our of nowhere and making the impact, overtaking the expectations associated with it. What works against Interstellar is that none of the common man group has gone to space and there is no real idea about how it is, or if anybody has actually gone there or if it is just a conspiracy theory. So when in a science fiction, if science completely devours fiction, there will be a problem for people. If it had dealt with what actually happens with human lives, things would have been direct, but otherwise there was the need to make it less complicated. It is not bad to have things complicated, but it has alienated the family audience here, and that section has been taken over by Big Hero 6 which has one robot with better emotional connection than the whole cast of Interstellar combined, including that of the third rate ghost-contacting father-hating daughter.

Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Starring (voice): Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T. J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Génesis Rodríguez, Damon Wayans Jr, Maya Rudolph, Stan Lee, James Cromwell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Carter

The story goes an year back, when I felt the horrible lack of respect to one movie which was better than another movie which was released in 2009. This better movie was John Carter and the inferior movie was Avatar. Even as the box office results and the critics say the other way around, the truth is not to be hidden. John Carter is superior to Avatar in each and every aspect, and unfortunately, the brainwashed audience go for movies reading the biased reviews of the so called critics. Well, how many times do someone have to tell these movie fans who read the fake paid reviews and look forward to to the hype, to listen to themselves and the less-hyped movies? For the same reason, I shall give this movie a little more in its ratings, for what it lost in its box office collection and the critical reviews. Seriously, why Avatar? What has it done other than building on the Pocahontas story and even becoming incredibly similar in theme to the Malayalam movie Vietnam Colony? Didn’t Avatar also get enough from this movie’s original story, A Princess of Mars, the science fantasy novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs? Still, it is hailed as the epic and became the highest-grossing film of all time, as well as of the United States and Canada; it is such a shame that there are two ways of treating the same material, the inferior one getting all the applause.

John Carter is more original than Avatar, being the right adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1917 novel, A Princess of Mars. It works as a perfect interplanetary adventure rather than a predictable world where one of the attackers get a candle lit in their brains and decide to get on the side of the helpless defenders. It has a dry and rather dark environment compared to Avatar which works very positively. Even the story is set in a more admirable world, with teleportation being the method rather than those giant space ships which repeats themselves in each and every movie, as the number of science fiction movies featuring space ships and the end of the Earth has reached a new record, as if they are too much interested in ending the Earth with that Voluntary Retirement Scheme which features the world’s most interesting voids which keeps creating more of themselves and call it science fiction, when they are actually confused what kind of creation they have actually given to the viewers. One has to wonder how much satisfaction they get by creating the same thing again and again.

After the sudden and unexpected death of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), attends the funeral. As per Carter’s instructions, the body is put in a tomb that can be unlocked only from the inside, and Burroughs is left with his journal to read and know more about what has happened. It tells his epic story when he is accidently transported to what seems to be a dying planet, Barsoom, a name which is used by inhabitants for what is known to Earthlings as Mars – with a harsh desert environment deprived of vegetation and even water on most of the areas. Because of his variable bone density and the planet’s low gravity, Carter is able to jump very high. But he is captured by a group of Green Martian creatures, called the Tharks and their leader Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). Meanwhile, the princess of the city of Helium, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) escapes from a possible marriage to Sab Than (Dominic West), the leader of the city of Zodanga who is armed with a special weapon obtained from the Therns, the creatures who take the role of the gods of Mars and control the world through manipulation.

After Carter and Dejah unite in the Thark camp, they escape with the leader’s daughter, Sola (Samantha Morton) after being sentenced to death for entering their sacred temple. They decide to get to the end of a river sacred to the Martians in an attempt to find a way for Carter to get back to Earth. Instead they obtain information about the ninth ray, a source of poweful, infinite energy which only the Therns can use to their advantage in a variety of ways, the same thing which they used to strengthen Sab Than, so that Helium would be taken over and may be even destroyed, as Dejah herself was so close to unlocking its secrets; something which would have threatened their own existence as gods, knowing, controlling and manipulating everything on Mars. But before they realize anything else, But they are attacked by the Tharks who are manipulated by the Therns. After Helium troops arrive for help, Dejah agrees to marry Sab Than. So, it is upto the Earthling to save the day, but he is captured by the Thern who tells him how he has manipulated civilizations around the world for centuries in what he calls restoring balance in the world is theirs to control. This leaves Carter with more to deal with other than just a cruel, mindless ruler.

He was very good as Remy LeBeau a.k.a Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this one is undoubtedly his best role ever. It is with amazing skill that he has changed from the former soldier to the defender of Mars; from John Carter of Earth to John Carter of Mars, from John Carter of Virginia to John Carter of Helium, from just a cavalryman on Earth to the saviour, redeemeer, hero and the prince on Mars. Adding Daryl Sabara as Edgar Rice Burroughs seemed like another brilliant idea which helped the movie to become a complete whole, both as a film and a literary adaptation. Lynn Collins looks incredible, outdoing the Kayla Silverfox of X-Men Origins: Wolverine; the two has united for good in this movie, it seems. If there is any doubt if she isn’t a princess of Mars, that would be a clear case of blasphemy in its purest form as long as all the concepts of a princess are concerned. She looked so immersed in that character, and if someone says there is no Helium nor Barsoom, she would be surprised. Strong in will and strong in combat, and surely not trailing in beauty to any other soul around her. It is good to see James Purefoy after watching two of his great movies, Solomon Kane and Ironclad, even as it is in a minor role.

John Carter has the advantage over Avatar in its pacing and characterization, and its environment, even if not too bright and heavy with so much unwanted elements of nature, gives a good effect on the screen – it looks real, unlike the all-time box office topper. Just like a university topper, college topper or class topper is not the best or not even near the best, Avatar can bow down to this movie in that alternate reality which would never come to existence in this world. Well, people are slowly coming to know about this one and how awesome it is, and thus John Carter will be hailed much later at least by a few sensible people. The lack of mechanized warfare, and the absence of blue people can be added as that advantage, but still there are the green ones who live a similar subaltern life as the human-like creatures fight each other and cause collateral damage. If we look closely, it is the species looking closer to humans that are always causing trouble – not really a thing to be proud about, I guess.

John Carter is actually a movie of a revolutionary in many ways – and that man is Carter himself who fights for the people to whom he doesn’t belong, the land to which he is not part of, and brings justice and equality not only to the human-like Martians, but also the oppressed subaltern in the form Tharks. The enslavement by the Therns will be also almost over with his success. He is that Earthling who changes a world for good, thus becoming a man of the cause. If there is any story that can inspire one, this is it. With that ending which the movie has got, there is no reason why one wouldn’t watch it on Star Movies, every time it makes an entrance. On a parallel Earth, this would have been a grand success, but in this world of prejudice and the love for nonsense movies, one has to ask an impaled dead body for truth and the right facts about a movie; for there is not much that one can gain by reading the reviews – never to believe what is written out there, as they misguide you and lead you to the wrong movie, which is why every movie missed is a grand tragedy!

Release date: 9th March 2012
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Willem Dafoe, Daryl Sabara, James Purefoy, Thomas Haden Church

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.