Alita

Vampire Owl: Do you know that a machine graveyard is now being prepared at the zombie graveyards by the werewolves?

Vampire Bat: What? You can’t have machines in a zombie world. It is a very dangerous situation that can lead to terrible consequences.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the news says that they have already started it.

Vampire Bat: When there is a machine graveyard, it is called a scrapyard. They don’t even know that much?

Vampire Owl: Werewolves were never the experts in learning.

Vampire Bat: So, how far has this been present there?

Vampire Owl: Ever since the movie Alita: Battle Angel released.

Vampire Bat: Well, at least they haven’t based something on the Underworld series or some Frankenstein movie this time.

Vampire Owl: Well, you know them. They are never sure about what they do.

Vampire Bat: If they want something to base their lives on, tell them to watch something like Byzantium or Doctor Sleep.

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

What is the movie about? :: Three hundred years have passed since a great war destroyed most of Earth. This war known as “The Fall” left the planet devastated, and divided it into the highly advanced Zalem City in the sky, and Iron City on the ground which was very crowded even though it had some of advanced technology. Almost everyone on the ground worked for Zalem, which was supposed to be one of the greatest cities of all-time, and the only one remaining after the continuous war with the enemy group known as United Republics of Mars (URM). A man named Vector (Mahershala Ali) controlled everything on the ground, as a proxy to the ruler at Zalem, getting his dirty job done. Almost everyone from the Iron City wanted to go to Zalem City, and it was part of their dreams for which they worked all day. But someone from the ground rarely made it to the sky, even though vice versa was always possible.

So, what happens with the events here? :: A scientist and doctor, Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) discovers parts of a female cyborg with a working human brain while looking for parts in the city’s scrapyard. With the help of his assistant Nurse Gerhad (Idara Victor), he manages to fit her into a cyborg body at his clinic. He calls her Alita (Rosa Salazar) after his daughter who died earlier, as the cyborg seems to have no memories of her past at all including her own name. Dr Chiren (Jennifer Connelly), Dyson’s former wife who works for Vector doesn’t seem to like it though. She manages to be friends with a scrap deaker Hugo (Keean Johnson) who shows her the world, and his friends including Koyomi (Lana Condor) and Tanji (Jorge Lendeborg Jr). She also knows about the cyborgs that walk on the streets including Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley) and Nyssiana (Eiza Gonzalez), and a fight with them will bring some of her memories back. So, who was she? How does that play a role in the future of her and the city?

The defence of Alita: Battle Angel :: There is a well-designed post-apocalyptic and dystopian future that can be seen throughout the movie’s run, and the elements are always there to be seen and enjoyed. The futuristic world is really well designed, with the two cities, as well as what lies beyond. The same can be said about the cyborgs too, as almost each one of them has different characteristics – you can also see that the protagonist makes the best out of it. The action sequences are of top quality, and we are addicted to them, and looking for more of similar moments. The emotional moments are also effective, and the idea behind the movies with moments of its flashbacks makes us wish for a sequel or even a prequel, because both will complete the tale well. This is one of those rare movies when we get close to the cyborgs more than humans. It will be difficult not to be emotionally connected to this movie, and its leading battle angel.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that Alita: Battle Angel leaves many questions to be answered, especially related to how United Republics of Mars (URM) was defeated, and the she ended up in the scrapyard if they were that good with fighting, having an almost perfect cyborg system which is near impossible to be destroyed – such an addition as a prequel or sequel is needed quickly enough. There is the feeling that we have watched most of this before too, and a lost cyborg finding its past and fighting through evil is not something we don’t know much about. The story becomes usual, and we can guess most of the proceedings of the tale. We can also predict what is to happen with some of the characters in the tale a little too easily, as the romantic side just serves as a drag. Let us see if a possible sequel and manage to rise above the usual stuff, and bring in the innovation.

Performers of the soul :: Rosa Salazar’s avatar remains a hit, and as she wore a motion capture suit and gave life to the character with the help of animation, we are glad to have this one added to our favourite list of cyborgs of all-time as the battle angel who is one day going to bring down a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Christoph Waltz’s character is the next one to whom we feel the emotional connect, and he makes the perfect father figure in more than one way. Jennifer Connelly makes a good addition, even though she is there for only shorter periods of time, but she makes some moments worthy. Mahershala Ali is okay as the puppet villain, but the antagonism is lost on a number of occasions. The two next most notable cyborgs played by Jackie Earle Haley and Ed Skrein makes it worthy of our time, being on the darker side of good-evil alignment. Keean Johnson as Hugo is the usual young lover boy done fine.

How it finishes :: Alita: Battle Angel is the very next project from James Cameroon’s Lightstorm Entertainment after Avatar, and before Terminator: Dark Fate which followed in the same year. If you look at that list, the next two movies are Avatar 2 and Avatar 3, followed by even more sequels if the two makes enough money. The director’s last movie was Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, some years ago. So, this is one project which was much expected – well, the trailer was really good too. Alita: Battle Angel, despite dealing with a post-apocalyptic and dystopian theme, with a dark side, can be watched by families, and it is an advantage that this movie have to widen its audience. I would recommend this movie over most of the movies which I have watched during lock-down. It has its heart and soul at the right place, and we are going to expect an even bigger sequel.

Release date: 14th February 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Jennifer Connelly, Christoph Waltz, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Eiza Gonzalez, Lana Condor, Keean Johnson, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Idara Victor, Mahershala Ali, Jeff Fahey, Rick Yune

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Gundala

What is the movie about? :: In a world of corruption, poverty, exploitation and income inequality, people struggle to keep their lives going forward despite working so hard throughout the day. None of the hardworking people earns enough to provide to their family members. A number of factories in the city make their workers continue their jobs under terrible conditions without paying them much. A boy watches as his father leads his co-workers in protests against the low wages of the factory where they are working, leading to violence beginning between the people and the security guards employed by the corporates. But the workers bribed by their bosses kill the leader, much to the dismay of the son who witnesses the sequence of events. The worst is that the boy is also struck by lightning and develops a fear for the dark clouds and rain – along with the same, his mother who had left for the city also doesn’t come back, leaving him to live in the streets with no hope to pay the rent for the house. There, he is regularly attacked by other street children.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The boy who is consistently beaten up for trying to help others, finds a helper who teaches him how to defend against others, an advices him to stay out of others’ business, and in a world like this, not minding one’s own business can get the person into big trouble. Even though they decide to catch a train and leave the place, the boy is not able to get to his teacher who boarded the train as he can’t run fast enough to reach the train’s door. Many years later, Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) works as a security guard as well as a part-time mechanic in a printing factory, while trying to keep away from trouble as much as possible, due to his experiences during the childhood. But when the girl living next door, Sedhah Esti Wulan (Tara Basro) and her little brother are threatened by a group of thugs, he interferes and throws them away from the apartment. Later, the thugs retaliate as a group, and after beating him up, throws him down from the top of a tall building.

And what more is to follow in this superhero world? :: But Sancaka is hit by lightning on that rainy day, and he awakens, even healing himself completely with the power of the lightning which had struck him. As he saves the helpless Wulan and her friends in a market from the same thugs, she asks him to join her as well as the many poor people who are under threat from the thugs. But things are not that direct as it would seem there. A legislator and crime lord named Pengkor (Bront Palarae) has everything under his control in the lower level of the city, with a gang of orphans under his command. He knows each and every crime which has happened in the city, and is planning to come up with something huge to create chaos and destruction in the city. With a scar and a limp which he had from his childhood, he would stop at nothing to hurt anyone who stand against him. Sooner or later, Sancaka will have to become Gundala, while his friends including Wulan who is falling in love with him are also under threat. Can he live up to the expectation and be the symbol of hope for everyone?

The defence of Gundala :: We have always been in need of superheroes, especially those who are not from Hollywood, especially not from Marvel or DC. We have always loved Shaktimaan from our childhood, and so the need has always been there. With Avengers finishing the job, and the biggest superheroes Iron Man and Captain America out of he equation, we are always looking for possible alternatives. We can gladly say that this is indeed one, and this time, we have a realistic one in a believable world, with less use of powers and more of martial arts. The action is all done in very well, and there is enough of it, especially when we consider this as an origin story. The dystopian setting is also really well done, and we get to be with the people who undergo the struggle against those people who forces them to stay at the lowest level. In one way or the other, these people are having their own Batman, but with some superpowers – maybe he is a little bit of Captain America with the ideology he later develops, but these are all nicely evolved, and developed to fit our interests here.

Positives and negatives :: This is not to be checked out like you do for those big CGI filled movies like Avengers and the others, because of its existence closer to realism. It has to be noted that Gundala Putra Petir was also the first comic book adaptation in the nation, and it dealt with the same superhero in 1981. Indonesia is supposed to have a superhero movie franchise like Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) called the BumiLangit Cinematic Universe (BCU), from what we read about them, and with one more superhero introduced with our main hero, we can be sure that there will be more to come in the next few years, even though the Corona Virus delay could still be there. We haven’t really been aware of the same, but there are some fine superheroes who could come to be big screen, and it would be nice to watch them all, just like we had supported the heroes of Marvel and DC. If they are to be like our hero here, we can be sure that all of them can feel close to our lives than the extra dose of metahuman-alien stuff that Hollywood has been providing with the CGI. Here, the nicely created world works with minimum CGI, and connects so well.

Performers of the soul :: Tara Basro played the protagonist in Impetigore, and she is here too, as the actress who has just turned thirty and also got married this year, brings another fine performance to her credit. As we look at it, we know that she is also supposed to play a superhero which she is to become in another movie in the franchise. She has already done enough to prove here as the Hollywood style scream queen, and here, her existence in the action movies seems to be able to provide the same wonderful effect – we would need to see her as the superhero soon enough, along with other popular names who are to be part of the upcoming projects of this franchise’s universe. Abimana Aryasatya is a solid superhero here, and he makes the Indonesian Batman in Jakarta City instead of Gotham City, taking on crime and saving innocent citizens. He makes us go through his emotions and ideology as we wealk his path. We also have some strong villain with Bront Palarae being very much menacing, along with assassins including Kelly Tandiono, Asmara Abigail, Hannah Al Rashid and others. Ario Bayu whom we had seen in Impetigore is also here, making an impact.

How it finishes :: This movie comes from Joko Anwar, who is the same director that brought us, the high quality horror thriller named Impetigore. Even though this movie belongs to a completely different genre, we can see the director’s skills at work yet again. We have known many superheroes already, and this one is based on the Indonesian comics character Gundala created by Harya Suraminata in 1969 – it is nice to know that we do have more of superheroes with variety in store. It is always great to have some home-grown superheroes, but not like that ridiculous thing called Krrish which doesn’t feel Indian, original or really heroic in any way, but Shaktimaan type are always welcome. Indonesia has achieved that so well, and this movie is also fine work, not just as an entertainer, but also in many other ways, as this is more than your usual superhero movie. After my last visit to Bali, this is the closest that I have managed to get to loving Indonesia, and we are to fall in love with Indonesian movies if there are more films like this one. After all, this one stays closer to the values of the common man that even the Dark Knight could ever do.

Release date: 28th August 2019
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Joko Anwar
Starring: Abimana Aryasatya, Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Ario Bayu, Rio Dewanto, Lukman Sardi, Fariz Fadjar, Aqi Singgih, Marissa Anita, Hannah Al Rashid, Asmara Abigail, Daniel Adnan, Cornelio Sunny, Kelly Tandiono

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The First Purge

Vampire Owl: Do you remember those moments when this was first implemented in the werewolf territory?

Vampire Bat: What are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: The day when werewolves brutally murdered each other.

Vampire Bat: How can I know? I am not spending my time looking at whatever happens in that territory.

Vampire Owl: Well, you should know that it was not that bloody as it would be if humans implemented it.

Vampire Bat: I know. Nobody I know is as blood-thirsty as an average human.

Vampire Owl: Because it is quite natural for them to be evil. They choose it with ease, while we are declared to be evil because we are undead.

Vampire Bat: I have never been that fond of their categorizations.

Vampire Owl: It is more or less, the divisions.

Vampire Bat: The divisions guide them towards eternal hate.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Arrowroot Biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: We remember that the New Founding Fathers of America, a totalitarian political party, came into power after an economic collapse. There was the law that sanctioned an annual Purge for twelve hours each year, when all types of crime, including murder, would be legal, with emergency services being unavailable. It helped the United States to become nearly crime-free with the unemployment rate dropping to the lowest ever. Earlier movies had mentioned those families and people who struggled during these times to survive against the chaos which was unleashed. This movie goes a few years back from there, as there was the time when this was beginning to be attempted on a trial basis. This experiment would be taking place on Staten Island, which is the southernmost as well as the westernmost of the five boroughs of New York City.

So, what happens next? :: New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) members Arlo Sabian (Patch Darragh) and Dr. May Updale (Marisa Tomei) announce a social experiment which is to take place in the island. It proclaims the twelve hours of purge, an activity during which the residents could be involved in anything illegal, including, robbery, rape and murder. There is also the offer for the residents of the Island to have $5000 to stay in their homes during the experiment and also a suitable compensation for those who would be participating in the brutality. There would be no ambulance or police, and the criminals would be on the streets with those who wish to go illegal. The participants would have tracking devices and contact lenses with cameras, so that whatever activity they do, can be tracked, and some of them can be even shown in the television channels. There are also those drones which would be monitoring everything from the sky.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Among those who leads the purge is a drug addict known as Skeletor (Rotimi Paul) who also manages to draw the first blood with a brutal murder, and tries to follow up the same with raping women and murdering anyone whom he finds on the street. Nya (Lex Scott Davis), an anti-purge activist who fails to stop the experiment, joins her friends Dolores (Mugga), Luisa (Lauren Velez), and Selina (Kristen Solis) in a church which they find to be the safest place on the island. Most of the people in the church had decided to stay because they are very poor and the amount of 5000 meant that they could have three meals a day after a long time. Meanwhile, the purge keeps getting stronger on the streets, and Skeletor leads the kill count by randomly attacking purge parties held all around the island. It is then that the drug lord and Nya’s former boyfriend Dmitri (Y’lan Noel) finds out that there is something strange about the purge – then, things change.

The defence of The First Purge :: The human impulse to go towards savagery against civilization, continues to be shown in this purge movie too. We are reminded of humanity’s inherent evil, and the never-ending desire to be free by punishing and murdering others and having extreme joy out of it. The First Purge also boasts about a lot of action in store, and we can see the experiment in the lines of The Belko Experiment taking place here, with some bringing death and the others trying to survive. There is some intense action in the final stages of the movie, and there is he reflection of what the politicians and the government has always tried to achieve, to divide and rule people, as well as make sure that the poor are among the dead, more than any other category, thus lessening poverty, hunger and unemployment to a level which can be managed. The First Purge has that idea which has a lot of truth, and it meets our soul once again as it did with other Purge flicks.

The claws of flaw :: One might feel that this version of purge might be the weakest of all similar movies. With the idea already established, and three interesting movies already made, we would expect the franchise to do better this time, but it doesn’t, as long as this particular movie is concerned. The cast is also not that strong, even Lex Scott Davis stands above the rest, and Y’lan Noel does have his moments. With the purge, there is always the chance for further innovations, but this one stands behind in that case. There no further venturing into that idea which could gather a lot of appreciation if used in the best manner. As we have watched all other purge movies, this one has more of repetition rather than anything else. The atrocities committed with this purge could have portrayed further, with humanity’s nature being questioned in a stronger and shocking manner.

How it finishes :: The Purge franchise has made all of us think, and with The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year, we have all been thinking about its basic idea, and relate it to humanity, society and the inherent evil in man which forces one to achieve catharsis in one way or the other. In our world, we have bandhs and harthals were political goons try to destroy property and people stay at home fearing this. Further north, there have been communal violence and riots in the name of dead cows, and all of these are options for those who need to take law into their hand and commit all kinds of atrocities. The Purge has one tale to tell in a part of the world, and another somewhere else. The whole humanity is driven towards that idea which William Golding showed in the 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies – The inherent evil becomes the truth, and committing all kinds of atrocities can be done naturally by humans.

Release date: 4th July 2018
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Gerard McMurray
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Steve Harris, Mugga, Christian Robinson, Lauren Velez, Kristen Solis, Marisa Tomei, Cindy Robinson, Patch Darragh, Maria Rivera, Chyna Layne, Siya, Melonie Diaz, Mo McRae, Rotimi Paul, Kevin Carrigan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Purge: Election Year

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Background to the movie :: This tale, at its background, has the group which is known as the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), whom after taking control of the American government, establishes a new state. They go on to legalize what they called “The Purge” which would take place every year from seven in the evening of March the twenty first to seven in the morning of March the twenty second, during which all crime including murder and robbery becomes legal. With an emergency broadcast, the Purge begins, and with the same, unleashes the terror. Only the government officials with the authorization levels that are ten or higher are provided immunity from the Purge, and all police, fire, and emergency medical services remain unavailable for the twelve hours of time. There is only chaos in the streets, and people unleash themselves on others, and most of the time, it is the poor who suffers, with not enough money to pay for their security.

Flashbacks of the Purge :: The first movie was set in the year 2022, with James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), a seller of top security systems, returns home to spend the night of Purge locked inside his home with his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their two kids, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder), but finds themselves in trouble from the purgers who are looking for a wounded man (Edwin Hodge) whom they had given asylum inside their home. The second movie, The Purge: Anarchy was set exactly an year later, with Sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) looking for vengeance against the man who killed his son, a married couple Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) trying to escape from the purgers as their car breaks down during the beginning stages of the Purge and the mother and daughter duo of Eva and Cali (Carmen Ejogo and Zoë Soul), all whose paths cross at some point on that eventful night of chaos.

So, what is this particular movie about? :: In the year 2022, just after the events of the first movie, we see a family being tied up at their home by a group of purgers. Soon, we are led to a situation, eighteen years later, which is seventeen years after the events of the second movie. Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), the girl who was part of the family which was attacked by the purgers in the first sequence of the movie, has grown up to be a senator, and brings the fight against the Purge, as she seems to be the one predicted to win the next presidential elections. The common man has also started to believe that the Purge is part of the economic agenda of the New Founding Fathers who are looking forward to eliminate the poor in favour of the rich. The crowd believes that they are reducing unemployment and poverty, only by replacing the lower class with corpses, and she is only gaining more and more momentum when the next Purge is announced.

So, what is coming up after this situation? :: The NFFA, lead by Caleb Warrens (Raymond J. Barry) knows that she is a threat to their organization, and has to be eliminated, which is why they decide to revoke the Purge rule that protects the government officials above the ranking of 10, keeping nobody immune. Roan decides not to back away into a safe place and stays at home so that she could face the Purge just like common people much to the dismay of her head of security, former police officer Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo). They set up tight security at the house, but mercenaries sent by the NFFA manages to get through into the house, and both of them run away to the streets. Surrounded by purgers, they are saved by a convenience store, owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson) and his assistant at the place, Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) who are out to guard their store. Together, they hope to stay alive.

The defence of The Purge: Election Year :: This one surely has the idea strong, and the strength in its core is without doubt. It surely has a lot in its mind and soul, which we can find if we look deeper into the movie. There is also the right use of thrills, and with its violence and twisted world makes one feel that it is more horror than any other genre, and it does look good. The action is good and the thrills feel real – the whole thing is extremely relevant to our current world too, as we see the ruling governments forcing things upon the people which benefit the rich who only gets richer. With such a situation, there is the worry about what the rulers won’t do for the rich and the influential, who power the political parties. A number of dead common people are of no concern to the government, and this is exactly what the idea of Purge talks about, except for the fact that it only happens brutally, and once in an year – in our world, it happens all the time and not many people care.

Claws of flaw :: Unlike expected, this one doesn’t manage to be an improvement on its predecessor – there was the idea which could have powered it to that status, but we see that the movie decides to go on predictable lines on more than one occasion instead of developing completely on the big idea. This could have done more with its theme, as a lot of people were sure to have such an expectation. The movie is also violent and won’t suit the taste of everyone, even though one can be sure that an idea like this can be even more violent. The doubtful will also won’t like this movie that much, and the same is the case of people who are looking to move forward without thinking – I am sure that there are such people around in need of the action mayhem and lots of blood, but despite the bloody background of the idea, this movie holds on to the idea rather than its gore.

How it finishes :: Making its point just like its predecessors, this one also leaves an opening for a fourth movie despite having all in the story to end the franchise as a trilogy. Just like the previous movie, it is powered by the performance of Frank Grillo, and Elizabeth Mitchell is excellent as the other lead character. There is one thing that a person who watch this movie can admit with ease, and it is that there is enough evil in this world for humanity to go for a purge – so much is the hate that each and everyone got for the others. And there is the second thing, and it is that there is nothing that the politicians won’t do to oppress the poor, and provide the rich with all they need to make them richer – we see them all the time, and the always rising petrol and diesel prices are just one example of the same. The purge is always there, in one way or the other, and we are all suffering, going to suffer more.

Release date: 1st July 2016
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: James DeMonaco
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Raymond J. Barry, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Liza Colón-Zayas, David Aaron Baker, Christopher James Baker, Brittany Mirabilé, Juani Feliz, Christy Coco, Roman Blat, Jamal Peters, J. Jewels, Matt Walton

thepurgeelectionyearrrr

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Scorch Trials

thescorchtrialsss

Vampire Owl :: This is not really the maze runner, is it?

Vampire Bat :: There is no maze in this one; but it is still officially a maze runner movie.

Vampire Owl :: How can this be a maze runner movie without the protagonists running through the maze?

Vampire Bat :: Well, they don’t even walk through it, but the title demands so.

Vampire Owl :: I was hoping to see more of the maze.

Vampire Bat :: We all were; the maze part was so good in the first movie.

Vampire Owl :: They could use the same again, in some other way, like levels change in games.

Vampire Bat :: Well, they were out of the maze in the first movie itself, so I think that it was never going to be possible.

Vampire Owl :: The audience never gets what they want to have, right?

Vampire Bat :: That has always been the case.

[Gets three cups of tea with jackfruit chips].

A flashback to the first movie :: The first movie which had gathered some good opinions from the critics and viewers began this adventure in the area which was surrounded by stone walls, leaving only one escape route, through the maze. This maze has strange creatures wandering inside though, and it was more like suicide for someone to go out through that path, which made the people inside create a small civilisation of their own, and the numbers increased with more and more people send up through a lift from under, which goes down only when all the weight is removed from it. The residents of this area which they called “The Glade”, trained runners to go through the maze and find a way out. The movie ends with them finally finding a way out through the maze.

What is it about? :: Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and the other surviving youth from the maze, Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Frypan (Dexter Darden) and Winston (Alexander Flores) are taken to what seems to be a safe place away from all the trouble – they are welcomed to a facility run by Janson (Aidan Gillen) who promises to make things better. It is all about one virus and finding a cure; all those who have escaped and reached the facility seems to be immune to the same. But things don’t seem to be normal with this particular facility. Soon, they find out that it belongs to World Catastrophe Killzone Department (WCKED) led by Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson) who was supposed to be dead, but it is not the case.

So what happens next? :: As they understand that the WCKED is experimenting on the immunes, despite being warned of “The Scorch”, the deadly situation that prevails outside the facility, the group makes an escape, and goes on in search of hope. They look forward to meeting with a resistance group, “The Right Arm” who are supposed to be hiding somewhere in the mountains and are bringing the fight to the WCKED. Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) who leave their crew to help them in finding the resistance group. But the question remains if the resistance group really exist, and even if it does, are these people of any good when facing the WCKED who are armed with the best technology and weapons?

The defence of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials :: The movie does catch your attention very early, as the scene shifts from the maze to what seems to an entirely new world. The new world detail is really good if you have a nice look at everything. We are given the assumption that there is something huge coming up all the time, and with secrets left to be brought out, we keep hunting for the same with the protagonists. There is no real love story in here to slow things further than what has been going on then, and that is also a positive. There are some good action sequences around here too, and one really ends up thinking that there is the need to watch the next and the final movie of the franchise, Maze Runner: The Death Cure to get the best of it; the movie ends in such a way that we have to look for that sequel coming up on January 12th, 2018.

The claws of flaw :: The main trouble that this movie has to face is that it is a Maze Runner movie without the maze, and as that was the most important factor which made the first movie a success, this one was sure to trail. With the idea of rebellion not that well used as with Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games and Beatrice Prior of Divergent, Thomas doesn’t do the same that well – our protagonist doesn’t go on to develop that much as a character. The moments of big thrills and heavy emotions are also missing in this particular flick. Too many people as well as incidents are predictable here, and the story doesn’t have that big strength which it should have had with the idea of the scorch being introduced – it could have been a show stealer like the maze, but it just isn’t as the movie slowly moves through it to the expected end.

How it finishes :: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials could have surely been a better movie, and there is no doubt about it. It surely doesn’t get to be that good as its predecessor which had the maze and the creatures to keep things better. Still, this one manages to be there as the movie which keeps us interested in watching the final movie of the franchise. Maybe the movie could have tried not to be like many other movies, with so many elements from them coming together here, and not all of them having that much of an effect. It is more of a case of being confusing due to such additions, while the original Maze Runner was rather clear on what it was doing and proceeded through the path on which it was supposed to travel. It surely works, but not as much as it could have, with so many things within their reach, or rather too many of them! Expect no hunger games!

Release date: 18th September 2015
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, Patricia Clarkson, Alan Tudyk, Rosa Salazar, Jacob Lofland, Alexander Flores

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Maze Runner

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Vampire Owl :: We are here at the exact time.

Vampire Bat :: How many times do I have to tell you that we have to reach the theatre before the movie begins?

Vampire Owl :: I am punctual with an awesome timing. So we should be here only when the movie starts. Otherwise, we will be bombarded with stupid commercials.

Vampire Bat :: There are no Vicco ads at this multiplex. This is Vicco-free

Vampire Owl :: There will still be a Katrina Kaif with a juice or chocolate.

Vampire Bat :: Stop solving the maze. You haven’t even seen her bathroom ad yet.

Vampire Owl :: What? You don’t tell me anything. You didn’t even talk to me about the uncensored version of 300 part two.

Vampire Bat :: But you did notice in the theatre that something was cut.

Vampire Owl :: Damn. I thought it was the blood and the flying body parts that they cut.

Vampire Bat :: This is why you are never promoted in the vampire ranks. You solve the maze before it is ever built.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: A boy wakes up in a box carrying supplies in an elevator, and is joined by a group of other boys who welcome him in an open area and makes him a member of their group. This boy whose name is discovered as Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), soon finds out that they are all trapped in an area surrounded by a maze with just one opening. They are all trapped in a rounded area filled with vegetation, which they call the glade. A new boy is send up in the elevator with supplies every month, and only when it is emptied that the elevator goes back down. Now they have started a small civilization there, and remembering only their own names, the boys are hoping that they can one day find a way out through the maze which is filled with dangers, including the consistently shifting mechanism of the maze which can squeeze whoever is inside, and the creatures of the night known as Grievers who roam around inside the structure. They train runners and make them travel through the maze during the day to be back at night, hoping to find a way out.

The defence of The Maze Runner :: The movie has the strength of some scares, especially with that great environment that it creates, and it is a significant thing that it is generated even without much strain but from the premises. The situation is about being locked in the middle of a maze, with no contact with the outside world, or the hope to escape and see what happens around. In the case of an escape, there is painful death awaiting, and that much they make clear. The maze is nicely designed with the addition of scare elements and the creatures which look a lot like mechanized spiders, and the atmosphere is a success. The suspense element stays strong too. The progress of the tale is nice, with the maze and the glade nicely explained and the incidents happening like they should. The best thing is that even as there is only one girl in the glade, there is the absence of a love triangle (or even rectangle) – not going there itself is a gain, and there is no romance as one would expect from a movie like this, keeping its mystery and terror alive without side-effects. The actors do their job, but almost everything is about the central character.

The claws of flaw :: The movie leaves with more questions than answers with which it struggles to provide, something which can get better only with the sequel. We don’t know much about most of things in this movie, and also about what is the right information, and what the wrong one is. The emotional side is pretty much weak, with no real attachment between the characters other than what is implied. Most of the characters including the heroine remains less interesting characters, and there are parts of the plot where things are rather rushed; the fans of book will surely complaint about possible deviations too. The movie could have used the maze more, especially in providing more mystery as our people unlock parts of it as we come to know about it. The scary stuff could have also had some boost with the darkness and the trees better twisted. There should have been more running in the maze suiting the title, and the need for more theories about the maze, its working and surprise attacks from the creatures, all would have boosted this movie, especially when it has that shortage of steam in the middle.

Soul exploration 1: Dystopian world :: The Maze Runner leaves us with a maze to think about. It is a lot like that labyrinth which was built by Daedalus for King Minos of Crete, which had that mythical Minotaur waiting to claim its victims. The half-man half-bull creature was slain by Theseus with the aid of Ariadne, and here, the story of monsters lives on. But what remains outside is the story of a dystopia, like what we had seen in Divergent and The Hunger Games, as a group of people are left in a world detached from the rest, controlled by some unknown people. There is also something from the Lord of the Flies as the boys struggle between themselves and their beliefsThey fight for survival here too, somewhat like in the games, but supporting each other and fighting an external force. Here, the divergent is the protagonist called Thomas, and he finds a way even as he is another newcomer like Beatrice Prior who becomes dauntless, and also showing the courage of Katniss Everdeen. Another fact is that there is another possible dystopia waiting for them outside, or is it extinction? Only those who have read the next books will know.

Soul exploration 2: Need for travel :: The glade is more like home, and we can see that there is reluctance from some members of the group to leave the place and enter the maze of troubles, which reflect what we see in out world. The maze of life is a difficult place to be, as we struggle to go through the same and nobody gets out of life alive, as we know it. The dangerous place that is life, calls us, but our reluctance to go into the world will only save our lives from the trouble that awaits us. Meanwhile, the glide protects its inhabitants and provides the people with the much needed safety of home. But can we be sure about the same? What if something better awaits us on the other side of the tricky and dangerous maze? It is only by travelling that we come to know about the same. Yes, the movie somewhat reflects the same, as we have the chance to go out there and explore, and only then, there will be choices. Such an uncertainty awaits us, and if we wait like the boys in the glade, we will never know; it is the risk factor that will define us.

How it finishes :: The Maze Runner ends the season of English movies coming late to this part of the world, along with A Walk Among the Tombstones which was my first preference for the weekend due to the presence of Liam Neeson. But thanks to the stupid timings that the multiplexes have kept for this movie, I might not be able to watch it, but I might still think abut giving it a try if circumstances are more favourable. For now, The Maze Runner seems to be the only movie of the week for me, and I am pretty much happy that I had chosen to watch it. It has also inspired me to read The Maze Runner by James Dashner some day, as there have been talks about some differences which are there and has affected the movie both positively and negatively. Lets also wait for that sequel which has a lot of things to tell us – here we await those answers to the questions which naturally springs up in the mind and leaves us not satisfied enough. Lets hope that this won’t get degraded like the Mortal Instruments and Twilight franchises or even as The Host.

Release date: 19th September 2014
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster,Will Poulter, Ki-hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Chris Sheffield, Aml Ameen, Alexander Flores, Jacob Latimore, Dexter Darden, Randall D. Cunningham, Joe Adler, Patricia Clarkson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Divergent

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Dystopia, the weakness :: The more relevant opinions should say that the weakness that haunts the world is more related to vampire romance, something which completely destroys the purpose of existence of vampires, no wonder Louis de Pointe du Lac felt that his life was pointless, and Anne Rice might have had a good idea what was to come next when she sat down to write Interview With the Vampire and all those works which followed in The Vampire Chronicles. Now, dystopia has risen to a level which is close to the vampire romance, and thanks to The Hunger Games, the scope for such fiction is proved immense; one has to agree that even Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and its movie adaptation had an extended feeling of dystopia enforced by the aliens. My first idea of dystopia came from Stephen King’s The Running Man which I read long ago, and that 1987 movie of the same name, Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso. A dystopian America sells quite well. Even mindless movies like Escape from New York worked very well (questioned only by its own sequel Escape from L.A.) and now we know what a safe territory is, even safer than some vampire romance which can coin the terms like “still a better love story than Twilight“.

What is it about? :: The story is set in a future Chicago as the world has transformed into a dystopia inside walls. The society has been divided into five factions with five different qualities, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were to live a hopeless life. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) has grown up in Abnegation with her parents and brother, and it was the faction that run the government. Its selflessness was proven by their work in taking care of the poor, the sick and the factionless. To the surprise and sadness of their parents, her brother chooses Erudite and she chooses Dauntless, even as she does know that she is a “divergent” who has different qualities and such a person is considered a threat to the current social order in the dystopia. Christina (Zoë Kravitz) and Al (Christian Madsen), two former Candors, and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), a former Erudite joins her friends group as she struggles to go on with an environment with which she is not familiar. She starts off at the bottom of the list threatened to be thrown out, but slowly begins to make her way up with the help of the instructor Four (Theo James). Soon, there will be more secrets to be unveiled though.

The defence of Divergent :: Another world awaits you in Divergent, a world which you are not unaware of, but it is still a world which you will enjoy once again – it is that kind of a world which gathers a dimension for just curiosity itself and thrives on it like Count Dracula on drop of blood. In the beginning itself, they show a huge fence, seemingly electrical along with skyscrapers which seems to have survived some Armageddon which ravished a lot of the known world. Its themes are many and its world nicely detailed with some nice effects added here and there. The post-apocalyptic city is really nice, with a train running through the centre and buildings connected with some kind of mechanical technology. The action sequences are nice and realistic, and the final combat scenes are well done. There is melee combat as well as shooting, and a lot more during the time of training for the fearless ones. The idea of the divergent among the factions is nicely developed out of something which we are all familiar with – the rebellion in the dystopia. The leap of faith moment and the initiation in style are two things I loved more than the rest.

The claws of flaw :: This movie is quite a lot like The Hunger Games, and explores a similar setting with a dystopia and training of young people to be capable for violence and if possible, inflict death upon the enemies. There is no deathmatch here, but there is that capture the flag (Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena fans check!). Being alienated is becoming far too common a thing these days as corruption in politics, the worst of such thing inflicted upon us by Kristen Stewart’s Isabella Swann. The movie’s faction choosing ceremony reminds us of the four houses of Harry Potter, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff. Remember the choosing of jobs in City of Ember? That should be another memory slowly coming out forced by the incident. The movie could have tried something innovative to have its own identity which would look entirely different from the rest. But taking the safe path was going to be more suitable for the first movie of a possible trilogy with a possible extensions due to divisions. But one can be sure that all the flaws of the whole franchise might be lesser than those from just one half of any movie of the Twilight series, especially the latter ones. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones did come with more flaws, but that was pure nonsense.

Performers of the Soul :: There was the awesome Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, and one might not be able to place anyone else in her place with a similar setting around. But Shailene Woodley is very close, and she is so good as the character that one feels almost of the same feeling for Beatrice Prior that was felt for Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire. Shailene has almost everything that the Twilight heroine lacked, and she makes sure that Beatrice is never out of control. She fits into that world right from the beginning and gives us one of the best female protagonists in a dystopia. She has great moments and wonderful lines in a movie which depends so much on her performance and she delivers. She is not just the cute face right there. It is sad that Kate Winslet had so less to do in a role which was about being a mastermind villain from the faction of intelligence. The same can be said about Maggie Q who is just there to be there! Ashley Judd’s existence itself is her presence in the movie. Theo James does his role nicely, and finishes strong as the trainer and the lover. I will leave special mention for Zoë Kravitz as Christina who looked and acted wonderfully throughout the movie.

Soul exploration :: The movie has a lot of themes being explored in it, both directly and indirectly in its world. The whole division into four factions according their qualities and job is more like the ancient caste system itself, but lets not go further into that. In the case of factions, there are people who think different and has the ability to go against this order which forms the core of this dystopia – they are the divergents, to be better known as the rebels. As such a world is lead by the sympathetic faction, one can only wonder how long before two others, the brains and the muscle power can take over. So we need the divergents. What about our current society? Don’t we need them as a dystopia always threaten to happen in one place or the other? Haven’t such “different” people contributed a lot more to the world than the normal ones? When I was in school, I was to expect to join one of the two factions, engineering and medicine, with the two hidden faction, commerce and management – where did I join? Well, I had to diverge, and that had to be dauntless. That was just an example, but lets choose to be different rather than fit into groups with difficulty. Lets just not take the violence in the movie with it.

How it finishes :: Based on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, the movie present us with another dystopian world to ponder over. Even as I haven’t read any work by her, this does seem to work quite well. Being the opposite of utopia, dystopia always had the power to keep the readers and viewers interested. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin told us the story of a world which is slave to logic and machines, completely against any kind of creativity. George Orwell gave us more in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World might be the title which comes to the mind of most people. Remember Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange too. There are lots of such novels which has explored the themes related to dystopia in a powerful way. Divergent takes a leap into the same, but not exactly in the same way. I don’t know about the book, but the movie does fine as it throws at the audience everything it got. The visual media has been nicely used for the same purpose. It released here late, and as this is a festival season full of regional movies, the movie won’t do that well here, and the shows are limited too – quite the bad time of the year to release this one here!

PS: Don’t read the name as “Detergent” because one of my friends did! 😀

Release date: 11th April 2014 (India); 21st March 2014 (US)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Hunger Games II

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On the predecessor :: The first movie in the franchise was released last year, and I have to say that I was impressed by the same. I shouldn’t feel that there are many people who doesn’t know the story, but I do know a few people who haven’t heard about it. So, it is a story set in the future, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where the world is divided into a rich Capitol which controls things and twelve poor districts. The boys and girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen (One boy and one girl from each district) are forced to take part in the Hunger Games conducted by the Capitol, an annual reality event telecast all around world. The selected youth known as “the tributes” are required to fight till death until there will be only one person remaining alive. Our protagonist is a young lady joined by the male tribute from her same district to be declared winners as they both threaten to commit suicide thus making the games invalid with everyone else dead – the first time when more than one winner is selected. The Capitol as well as the President remains unhappy about it, but covers the action as an act of true love and not a rebellion so that there won’t be the chance of a revolution against the Capitol from the suffering districts.

What is it about? :: Time has passed since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) took the place of her little sister who was chosen by lottery to participate in the games and won it with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) creating a new record and bringing about a certain difference which was not entertained by the authorities. But they have returned home as the unexpected winners. President Coriolanus Snow visits the lady and tells her to prove that her action was based on love rather than defiance, as there are lots of rebellions taking place in districts, thanks to them defying the order to kill each other. But it doesn’t really work well as the winners’ visit to District 11 lets the emotions run high and sparks riots. Snow decides to get this problem finished as he declares the third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Hunger Games held in every twenty five years in which the participants are to be selected from recent winners. Even as Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is selected by lottery with Katniss to participate, Peeta takes his place and both are once again in the game, this time against better opponents.

The defence of The Hunger Games :: The best thing about the movie is that it tells us how ridiculous these reality shows are, and we should rather be ashamed of them for making it “reality” when those who conduct the shows decide who should win. I was shocked at the number of reality shows in India, especially in Malayalam television channels, and they were getting more and more pathetic, except for may be the comedy shows. The word “reality” is the one thing that doesn’t suit them as many unnecessary outside forces work through it. The movie’s take on the other things such as inequality, oppression and the evil of a dystopia is highly effective and moving – its rather direct, I would say with people always told what to do and obey in a world filled with false hope. All of its themes have been portrayed beautifully, bringing our feelings alive for the characters – the oppressed ones. The twist in the end is also pretty nice, and there is found to be nothing missing about it. This movie has also improved in its graphics and there are some better special effects and action in store compared to its predecessor.

Claws of flaw :: The Hunger Games II is too long, and nobody can really defend against that. The movie was also very slow in getting into the action, as the tournament starts only some time after the second half starts. There are occasions when one might thing why this chooses to drag when not needed. The emotional side remains something of lesser power compared to the first despite the characters going through more, and we might not remember this one as we remember the first. The climax is surely inferior to what was there in the predecessor with an end which is too quick, and there is too much of a projection of the leading character which gets repetitive and one is forced to wonder what is there for that. A better game was also expected by the viewers, that is for sure judging from how the people were responding in the theatre. The movie is too much like the first movie, and there is also the absence of that much fun as well as seriousness. But this one remains a force to reckon with, and it can lose only to that force which will come as another sequel, The Hobbit II, and if I am asked more about it, I expect that one to keep this one restricted to one of those corners as shows are concerned.

Performers of the soul :: I had watched Silver Linings Playbook recently, and I was sure about who was going to steal the show once again, yes that is our leading lady, the girl on fire, Jennifer Lawrence. With the intensity of her character and the severe shortage of any good feeling, the life of Katniss is powerfully portrayed, and there are not many characters in a science fiction movie that affects the audience like this, and there are not many actresses who might have done the role so well, so charming in her disturbed state of mind and so strong even in the weakest state, Katniss is a lot more than the ordinary sci-fi hero or heroine, and it is evident that Jennifer Lawrence has indeed awakened Katniss again. Josh Hutcherson isn’t lost in that either, as Peeta deserves a lot, and he makes sure that the characters get what is deserved. Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Philip Hoffman and Donald Sutherland are there with valuable support in a combination of fine performances. Another character I liked was Johanna Mason played by Jena Malone, there was something about that one.

Soul exploration :: The Hunger Games continues as the indirect satire on reality television, and how its winners are determined by those who are at the top. I liked the same in The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso, but on the entertainment side. The evil of dictatorship is also there, and the thing about inequality is even stronger in this second movie of the franchise. The revolution side is also stronger in this one as it starts powerfully right from the beginning of the movie. In a world which is moving more and more towards modernity and its horrible side effects, what we see in the movie gets more and more relevant. There is always pain, suffering, helplessness and oppression – everyone fights more than one battle for survival, and everyone with a mind is a revolutionary, hopefully of the peaceful nature. The power of media and government control becomes more shocking than ever in this movie. As Katniss sacrifices her life to save her sister in the first movie, the sacrifice is done by Peeta this time.

How it finishes :: The newer fiction doesn’t really work well for me when made into movies, the most significant ones being Twilight, The Host and Mortal Instruments – the novels won’t work for me either, but that would spawn another story another day. I am glad that this is another movie which worked, and it is going to make more in the box-office here as the movie of the weekend. The month starts well and hope the year ends well! There are not many more movies to come. It is not really necessary to watch the first movie before Catching Fire, but it might be nice if you do. There are lots of things that is carried over to this movie, but this sequel can still work out alone as the story is concerned – but one will only be happy about having watched the first movie. Lets hope that it will only get better with the next movie in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 as well as its sequel. Let the hunger stay alive, for freedom and equality.

Release date: 6th December 2013 (India); 22nd November 2013 (US)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

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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.

Cloud Atlas

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If Cloud Atlas could be termed an anthology movie, it should be my all-time favourite in that genre, but it follows that path which moves the film back and forth through centuries and through different stories of this world. At one moment, you identify with one person, and the next moment, you see another world, one might be of the early nineteenth century, and the next one of a post-apocalyptic future which goes further beyond this century. I would prefer this method more than the typical anthology method which has even made an impact in Malayalam movies with Kerala Cafe and 5 Sundarikal, as this is more intellectually effective, as we moves through the minds and souls of all these characters at the same moment, and they are with us until the end of the whole movie-watching experience. All characters and locations stay with us together, like a mixture which resembles the real life. It is adapted from a 2004 novel by David Mitchell of the same name. The movie features multiple stories set across six different ages when the mankind has to face entirely different things, and faces them individually, and still most of them resemble each other with each action which was done in one century has indirectly affected the other, even as there is no direct relation between all these.

✠ Segment I: @South Pacific Ocean, in the year of Our Lord, 1849: This tells the story of Adam Ewing, a man with a powerful conscience who witnesses the whipping of a slave, Autua with digust. The slave later sneaks aboard Ewing’s ship in an attempt to escape from the world of pain and torture and attain freedom. Ewing helps him out, but not without doubts in his mind. Meanwhile, Doctor Henry Goose, his physician, slowly poisons Ewing, claiming that he is treating the man for a parasitic worm ever since he had collapsed seeing the whipping of the slave. He aims to steal Ewing’s valuables one by one. ***[Spoiler Warning for the next two lines]*** But when the doctor is about to finish the man with a fatal dose of poison, Autua intervens at the exact moment and saves Ewing. Returning to the United States as a changed man and with a clear idea in his mind, Ewing with the support of his wife Tilda, denounce her father’s involvement in slavery and leave San Francisco to join the movement against slavery. It is quite touching as a story, but the effect is limited – still works fine as a story which will inspire what is to follow. I wouldn’t go on to rate these stories considering them as part of an anthology though, and therefore you shall see none here. Still, this movie has the most clear message of them all, with no piece of ambiguity added at any point.

✠ Segment II: @Cambridge, England and Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, in the year of Our Lord, 1936: Robert Frobisher, a bisexual English musician, finds some work with composer Vyvyan Ayrsand after leading a life of high immorality and the worst possible scandals if discovered during the Victorian Age in Britain. He helps him to compose his own masterpiece, which is refered to as “The Cloud Atlas Sextet”. He is also attracted to the composer’s wife, a feeling which is mutual and has a relationship with her too. But Ayrs wishes to take credit for the work as his own, and threatens to expose Robert’s scandalous and immoral background if he tries to stop him. ***[Spoiler Warning for the next two lines]*** Robert who has read a partial copy of Ewing’s journal, shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel, where he finishes the musical work. He then shoots himself and commits suicide just before his lover arrives. This is a story of lesser, or may be the least effectiveness, and I would consider this the weakest of them all. This one doesn’t even have a worthy character who could make an impact, and thus works as the story which prevents this movie from becoming the masterpiece, still holding itself together to prevent falling into that abyss.

✠ Segment III: @San Francisco, California, in the year of Our Lord, 1973: Here, a journalist Luisa Rey meets an old man, Rufus Sixsmith who was the lover of Robert Frobisher in the earlier segment of 1936. He is now a nuclear physicist who tells Rey about a hidden conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by a powerful man named Lloyd Hooks. He is assassinated by a hitman Bill Smoke before he can give her a report that could prove the same. But she is helped by another scientist at the power plant. But she is chased by the assassins and involves herself in a life or death situation. There would be no spoiler spoiled in this paragraph, and what connects this story to the first one is that common factor of lineage which goes back to the slavery and its abolishment, as well as “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” which makes its entry here too. This story is more of a continuation and the carrier of the earlier legacy of the two segments even as most of these things remain indirect and not easily noticeable. This is also Halle Berry’s best performance throughout the movie as she appears in entirely different roles in the segments.

✠ Segment IV: @England/Scotland, United Kingdom, in the year of Our Lord, 2012: Timothy Cavendish has his own problems when Dermot Hoggins, a gangster author whose book he has published, murders a critic and is sent to prison, and the gangster’s brothers threaten him regularly to get his share of the profits. Cavendish turns to his brother Denholme for help even as they don’t like each other that much and were not on good terms, but the brother tricks him into hiding in a nursing home, and it turns into a kind of prison for him, as he is held against his will, but he escapes with a number of inmates who shared his vision of freedom. The connection is established when Cavendish receives a manuscript of a novel based on Rey’s life. This is a touching, as well as funny story, which starts off slowly, but by the end, it leaves a profound influence on the viewers. This can be considered as the only story which has that lighter side in the serious world which tries to tickle the intellect throughout. The terms cute and sweet can also be linked to this one by the end of the segment.

✠ Segment V: @Neo Seoul, Korea, in the year of Our Lord, 2144: Sonmi-451 is a genetically-engineered clone server at a restaurant who is interviewed just before her execution. She tells the story of her release from her life of servitude and modernized slavery by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a leading member of a rebel movement known as Union. While they are hiding from the troops, she watches a film based on Cavendish’s adventure thus making a connection to the previous segment. It is revealed to her that the clones like her are killed and “recycled” into food for future clones who becomes the server in the restaurants later without themselves knowing anything about it. Just like the people of 1849, she also decides that the system of such a dystopian society based on slavery and exploitation of other living beings is evil and not to be tolerated, and how she changes the world or at least make it aware of what is happening under the mask of a righteous and perfect world forms this story of revolution, an element which has existed throughout the segments. She is a representative of all ages, and she is that vision of the past that future has upheld with pride.

✠ Segment VI: @The Big Island, in the year of Our Lord, 2321: Zachry is just another random person who lives with his sister and niece Catkin in a primitive society after most of the humanity has died in an apocalyptic event which is not mentioned, but a possible nuclear warfare and related massive destruction can be guessed. Sonmi-451 of the previous segment is worshiped as a goddess and her broadcast is part of their sacred texts. Zachry is plagued by strange visions of a figure who creates fear in him, and leads to him running away from problems all the time, something which haunts him throughout his life, as he couldn’t save his own people from death due to his fear and hallucinations. They are also attacked by a fierce cannibalistic group regularly. One day, his village is visited by a more modern individual, part of the society which had more access to the technology during te apocalypse, and this changes his life forever. There is also an epilogue in which more of who tells these stories and from where – all these are revealed to the viewers. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are there for all the segments, and have done a great job in fitting in. The same can be said about Hugo Weaving, and Doona Bae is highly impressive in Segment V. The movie is not for everybody, but it is a wonderfully crafted work of art made from a work which was near impossible to adapt on screen, as something which inspires one continuously as long as he or she is able to stay with it, and there are good intentions related to this one, and the viewers can’t simply deny that.

Release date: 26th October 2012
Running time: 172 minutes
Directed by: The Wachowskis – Laurence Wachowski and Andrew Paul Wachowski [segments 1849, 2144, 2321], Tom Tykwer [segments 1936, 1973, 2012]
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.