Io

Vampire Owl: We are watching another movie quick enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is surely a plan of Vampire Fate.

Vampire Owl: So, you mean to say that Fate is a vampire too.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not. Fate meets all requirements for the same.

Vampire Owl: For something to become a vampire, first it needs to exist.

Vampire Bat: Fate’s existence has been proven over the centuries.

Vampire Owl: But has Fate ever lived in a physical form?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Fate is already part of the air we breathe.

Vampire Owl: That sounds like the Corona Virus.

Vampire Bat: After all, this Corona Virus pandemic itself is a work of fate itself.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: When the Earth was going to be destroyed mostly due to pollution resulting from human activities, many scientists had started working on a power station that could be sent to space to harvest geothermal energy from other planets. But it would be too late, as people were dying in their sleep, while some others were suffocating in the streets, with the blood in their veins turning black due to a higher level of pollution. The change in atmospheric composition due to the same led to many spaceships with people flying into the sky and then into space as an act of Exodus turning the power station into a colony, like a lifeboat floating about another celestial body. For the same, they had chosen the fourth largest celestial body among the moons in the solar system which has the highest density among them, and has the lowest amount of water around. Discovered in 1610 by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei and named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera, Jupiter’s volcanic moon, Io now has a higher significance for humans.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Most of the people on Earth had already fled, but a very few still try to survive on its surface. Sam Walden (Margaret Qualley) is one of those very few humans who have some hope left about Earth, and she chooses a high altitude area where the air is somewhat breathable, even though she does make some visit to the highly polluted areas with masks to collect some samples. She is also raising bees, hoping that they can help clean the air, but is asked by her boyfriend who lives on the Io station to join him, as they are planning to live at a newer, greater place, with no hope left for Earth which has fallen to human greed. Sam’s hopes are ruined when her bees are killed by a terrible storm which also destroys some of her equipment and sources of power. But she does maintain some hope, as she continues to be in contact with her long distance boyfriend from Io, and tries to carry on with her objective, even though without that much of a plan this time.

And what more do we see here in a wold without hope for future? :: At the same time, a man named Micah (Anthony Mackie) arrives there on a balloon, and asks for her father and scientist, Dr Harry Walden (Danny Huston) – but he is not there, and she assures him that he will be back soon, maybe the very next day, after some field work. He decides to wait, as Harry was someone who believed that there was hope for humanity on Earth, and he needed to meet the man. But the problem here is that Harry has been dead for a long time, and she has been lying all the time. Micah was brought here by the message from Harry which had further brought him hope – the message was sent by Sam, and this would lead to a crisis, as both of them will have a few things to realize, and the same is to be done together. Is there hope left for Earth, or can they make another choice? Where will they end up in the end, dead or alive while fighting for survival in a dying planet?

The defence of Io :: Here is another post-apocalyptic movie which has the expected stuff, even though not with the action-filled adventure of a science fiction. The emotional moments are serene, and effective, and the cast is perfect for the same. Margaret Qualley’s face has that kind of melancholy going through her, which brings the feeling effectively, whether it is about loneliness or the loss of hope – yet, there is some hesitation, something which Eva Green didn’t have even for a bit in the science fiction drama, Proxima. Anthony Mackie provides the support well enough, even though Margaret eclipses everything around with a certain beauty of hopeless sadness that always surrounds her. The visuals of post-apocalyptic world is done just in the right way, and there are areas where it does have some fine work in store. The references to the mythology are good, but can feel overdone to a number of people who are not familiar with the same. The feeling of failure of faith, belief and hope feels natural too.

The claws of flaw :: Io is indeed a slow movie, and never does it pick up the pace, even though there were many opportunities to do so, especially considering the fact that this is a post-apocalyptic world that we have in store here. For such a world, there is so much potential, even in isolation, as we have seen in many other movies which have setting after the destruction of Earth due to one reason or the other. The best of science fiction had a chance to come in on many occasions. This definitely depends on what you are expecting from a movie like this, as this is not your usual stuff with the same idea at all. The romantic is also not that good, and the film could have easily gone on without it – after all, this is not that kind of a flick. The movie also deserved a better ending, considering how it had built up slowly towards that finish. It could have also had some fine visuals of space with Io out there, along with some moments at the space station, as they have come this much already, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Io is the post-apocalyptic science fiction drama which deviates from the usual path, and seems to be proud of it all the way. After all, it shows what could happen at some stage later, and therefore being realistic is an understatement. The fall of humanity and Earth has been predicted for a long time, and this Corona Virus has asserted the weakness of science in front of most of the enemies whom humans are going to face, and clearly none of the advancements of science can save them. Considering the same, Io is indeed a realization, of the weakness and hopelessness of mankind. You have to move with slow and abiding sadness of the movie to like this version of post-apocalyptic science fiction – otherwise, you might not find this particular version to be interesting. During this time of COVID-19, you know that we might not be that powerful to even delay our extinction for a limited period of time and we are certainly not the saviors of our planet, but the ruthless destroyers.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jonathan Helpert
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, Danny Huston, Tom Payne

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wandering Earth

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Earth can wander?

Vampire Bat: I have never known about Earth being a wanderer. Can it go to tourist destinations and see places?

Vampire Owl: This movie has Earth wandering around with he help of human technology to escape the solar system to save all life.

Vampire Bat: So, you mean to say that extinction is delayed in this case too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, this time it is the Chinese that saves the day.

Vampire Bat: So, after The Monkey King 2 and The Mermaid, it is time for another full-length Chinese movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and we haven’t had something like Interstellar, Gravity or The Martian in a very long time.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have missed space as well as the possible end of the world.

Vampire Owl: There are not many things that I have missed so much.

Vampire Bat: This one looks grand. So, it could assure fine quality science fiction during the possible end of the world.

[Gets a plum cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Sun which is getting older is about to turn into a red giant and would engulf Earth’s orbit very soon, and this realization forces the world nations to form a United Earth Government, an act of unity which never happened in the long history of humanity. The plan here is to take Earth out of the Solar System to the Alpha Centauri system which is many light-years away, so that mankind can be saved from extinction which seems to be very close. For the same reason, grand thrusters known as the Earth Engines, are built across the planet to keep Earth moving, after stopping its rotation. Many people die due to grand tsunamis that occured after the rotation stopped. As Earth moved away from the sun using the newly formed Earth Engines, the surface was frozen, forcing the remaining people to live in huge underground cities. These areas were built near the engines to make sure that there is enough power.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As this plan to keep Earth moving for many years, almost taking one hundred generations to finish the mission, a young man named Liu Qi (Qu Chuxiao) takes his younger sister Han Duoduo (Zhao Jinmai) on a journey at the surface. It happens to be an unauthorized trip to the surface, but as they travel in a heavy transport vehicle using fake IDs from criminal gangs and also using their grandfather Han Zi’ang’s (Ng Man-tat) heavy vehicle clearance pass. But their journey is halted by the security forces who takes them to prison, and they are soon joined by their grandfather who tries to bribe the authorities to get them out. Liu Peiqiang (Wu Jing), Liu Qi’s father is an astronaut who is at an international space station that is supposed to help navigate the Earth on its journey that would last thousands of years, and also has DNA of animals and seeds of plants stored to ensure better life in the next solar system.

And what is to follow later in this tale? :: Liu Peiqiang’s mission in space is finally going to end and is all set to return to Earth after the Chinese New Year, and meet his son who has been very unhappy about leaving him behind. Liu Qi’s only happiness in the world is his adopted teenage sister Han Duoduo who was saved during the tsunamis by his grandfather. But the plans of a possible family reunion is soon destroyed, as huge earthquakes occur on Earth, as the planet has a gravitational spike during its journey close to it, instead of gaining a gravitational assist, and the Earth Engines are disables as a result. This would get Earth much closer to Jupiter, setting it on a collision course with the giant gas giant, which is many times bigger, and would mean the end of human life on all cities. With all the destruction around, the family escapes from the prison along with a fellow prisoner named Tim (Mike Sui) who is half-Chinese and half-Australian, as they get caught in a mission to save Earth. But can they do it and move Earth away from the largest planet in the solar system?

The defence of The Wandering Earth :: The movie does manage to have some good performances from Qu Chuxiao in the lead, Wu Jing as the father figure, Li Guangjie as the captain, Zhao Jinmai as the sister figure, Ng Man-tat as the grandfather figure, and others who support pretty well. But the movie is never that much about people, even though the emotional side is awakened at times, especially related to the family relations – the big advantage of the movie remains with the action-filled adventure set in the future, nicely managed in a world which is very well designed. There is a fine world that we see here, giving our eyes some beauty which is there to stay even after we finish watching the movie. The post-apocalyptic world is among the best, and the designs of the underground cities, the grand engines with the view of Earth and Jupiter, the new frozen world on the surface, and the message of hope are all nicely delivered. The thrills are delivered well.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the emotional touch is surely there, the characters remain underdeveloped, and the sister character, even though becomes one that catches our attention, doesn’t have that depth – the father-son relationship also struggles to move on, and the final sacrifice is the one thing that saves it, as its background remains too strained to be likable. There is also a certain amount of predictability related to that, and even with a new idea of using the Earth to go to another solar system instead of a spaceship to take people to another planet, the idea is not that much explored to the full potential. Even with the final attempt being something of zero chance of survival, when people go for it instead of supporting the survival of the species, one has to wonder what kind of astronauts and scientists are these people. At least the Artificial Intelligence did loss hope in mankind by then. This one surely needs a sequel to let us know how it goes after that fine finish, and I hope that it arrives soon.

How it finishes :: The Wandering Earth is undoubtedly the best Chinese full-length movie which I have watched so far, but it has to be noted that I haven’t watched many of those movies. It is a visually stunning spectacle which takes you on an apocalyptic as well as post-apocalyptic journey through a world which needs to be saved, and this is where the science fiction wears it action-adventure boots, and gets you on a thrilling adventure. It might not make you feel that it is entirely new inside, but what you see on the outside with its idea, is innovative. It might feel familiar at times, but also impressive, when you witness this grandeur on the screen. It is China’s third highest-grossing movie of all-time, and it might be their first full-scale space adventure, with apocalypse written all over it. Loosely based on the 2000 novel with the same name by Liu Cixin, the movie has you immersed in that world from the future.

Release date: 5th January 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Frant Gwo
Starring: Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjiem, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing, Qu Jingjing, Zhang Yichi, Yang Haoyu, Li Hongchen, Yang Yi, Jiang Zhigang, Zhang Huan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Captain Marvel

What is the movie about? :: A few galaxies, away, on the Kree Empire’s capital planet of Hala, Vers (Brie Larson), a member of Starforce has a regular dose of nightmares every night, and it seems to be related to her memories, most of which she doesn’t have any more except in the form of quick shots. She is trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) who hopes that she can keep her emotions under control, and use her special powers only when needed. The same is asserted by Supreme Intelligence, an Artificial Intelligence which had command over the empire. At the same time, a war is going on, between the technologically advanced Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls, happening on different planets. This war which has been going on for centuries, had Kree at the advantage, calling the Skrulls terrorists who are trying to take over different planets by force and leaving a trail of mass destruction and brutal murders.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: During one of those missions assigned to the Starforce, Vers ends up being captured by them. A memory probe is conducted on her, and the Skrulls find many of the lost memories, but don’t exactly find what they were looking. As Vers manages to escape, she lands on the planet called Sector 53, Earth. Her presence in Los Angeles attracts the attention of SHIELD agents Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). The Skrulls lead by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) continues to chase her, and she discovers that she was an airforce pilot, and was working on developing an experimental engine with the famous scientist, Dr Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) before she was presumed dead in the failure of the effort and resulting explosion. But it is not the only secret that she would be bringing to light.

The defence of Captain Marvel :: There is some nice world detail in Captain Marvel, and the action immediately catches our attention. The journey through different planets, as well as the trip through the United States in the 1990s remain a joy to watch. There is also the presence of a lot of humour in this one, and that involves more of the unexpected. There is also a lot to expect with the new movie in the Avengers series, Endgame, with this new character being introduced into the scene. With this type of a strong superhero added to the roster like a Superman without Kryptonite, there are wonders waiting to happen. There are also some interesting questions being asked in the movie, about war and the need to end it. This movie could also go a long way with its main idea, and the journeys through different planets with more species to be there.

The claws of flaw :: Captain Marvel is no match for Wonder Woman, and that is indeed strange, considering the fact that even Black Widow and Scarlet Witch showed signs of doing that early – the female characters of Marvel had a certain amount of charm, but this new superhero who gets the first Marvel movie with a female hero lead, trails. She is also very late to arrive here, as a movie set in the 1990s. Captain Marvel should have been there before Avengers: Infinity War, and along with Ant-Man and the Wasp, these movies are not helping the upcoming big one that much as one would have expected. Regarding the introduction of such a powerful superhero late is not helping, and too much strength is also not bringing any advantage. This one needed a Kryptonite to keep the titular hero in control, as we no longer live in the age of invincible heroes, as we need the flawed ones more; it is not Superman that can do the job these days, but Batman and Aquaman.

The performers of the soul :: Brie Larson is indeed the person to look out for, and she handles this too strong a superhero with such skill that we feel closer to the character – the distance becomes less. You remember her playing a kidnapping victim in Room, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. The 2017 movie Kong: Skull Island was the one movie for which she has been known the most among the common audience around here. She doesn’t have the more close to life superhero like Gal Gadot had with Wonder Woman – that one had her closer to us with the role, and it is the presence of too much superpower that keeps this one away. Also having a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe, this one comes as no challenge to her, and it is her who makes sure that the superhero gets to the masses, and we can only be glad about the same creating a huge effect in the next Avengers movie.

Further performers of the soul :: Jude Law as Yon-Rogg here reminds one of Patrick Wilson’s character in Aquaman, as he goes on doing more and more in the name of the empire. He makes one strong villain here, even though the villainy is let down by having too strong a superhero at one end. From what he has displayed, we can be sure that there was more to be done if the villain was given some powers to match the glowing superhero. Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury is too good once again, and we have him handling the humour with a great amount of skill. Ben Mendelsohn as Talos on the other side of the war also has some fine moments to go with. Gemma Chan and Djimon Hounsou are notable as other members of the Starforce who tries to make things happen for Kree, but doesn’t have the power – once again the problem of too powerful a superhero and the absence of good enough supervillains comes up.

How it finishes :: It can be seen that Captain Marvel remains an entertainer throughout its run, with great visuals all around, and it even has a cat to steal the show along with those common humans. But with the overpowered superhero, there is a limit to how entertaining this one can be, and we all know how this will end, right from the beginning itself. A super powerful hero to use against Thanos is not that great an idea because that leaves whatever in Earthly, and whatever is human, out – we don’t want something like what happened with the final moments of Justice League, which had everyone other than Superman to be a waste. But we hope that Marvel can fix that well enough making this less repetitive next time, and until then, this one is a very entertaining movie set on different planets and between different species. The good 3D also helps the same, even though the world is no match for that of Aquaman and Thor: Ragnarok.

Release date: 8th March 2019
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Arrival

arrival-1

Vampire Owl: We are all awaiting their grand arrival, sometimes without even closing our eyes.

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand. Who exactly are you talking about? There are no names on this guest book for quite some time. If this is an unofficial meeting coming up, you will still have to inform Uncle Dracula through the telepathic connection.

Vampire Owl: The ones who shall not be named, those whom nobody shall dare to name.

Vampire Bat: If you can’t name then, I won’t be able to wait for them. It makes no sense at all.

Vampire Owl: It is because you are a man without faith. It makes you spiritually poor.

Vampire Bat: I have more faith than you and your brainless zombie minions combined.

Vampire Owl: Well, the beautifully carved tombstones at my favourite cemetery has better faith.

Vampire Bat: This does make me wonder what you mean by the words “faith” and “arrival”.

Vampire Owl: Maybe, you can take some lessons from this movie.

Vampire Bat: Movies with messages and lessons are the best. Let us see how this one goes.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with special samosas].

What is the movie about? :: A linguist, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is teaching at the university when she hears an alarm. Twelve alien spacecrafts have landed on Earth, at Maracay in Venezuela, Montana in the United States, Kujalleq in Greenland, Devon in the United Kingdom, Kenema in Sierra Leone, Khartoum in Sudan, Punjab in Pakistan, Siberia in Russia, Hokkaido in Japan, Shanghai in China, and also in the Black Sea and the Indian Ocean. The United States Army Colonel G.T. Weber (Forest Whitaker) contacts Louise to help the nation and the planet Earth as a whole by joining a team which includes people specialised in different fields including a theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). The idea is to understand the reason behind the arrival of the aliens.

So, what happens next? :: At a military camp in Montana near one of the spaceships, the military look forward to knowing if the aliens are really hostile, or are they just trying to make peace with the humans. This can only be done by entering the spaceship at a certain point of time, coming face to face with the creatures. The aliens are nicknamed by the group as “heptapods” due to having seven legs, and the team starts making contact with them. The language of the aliens is something which corresponds to nothing else, as they write some strange circular symbols on the glass which separated them and the humans. Louise puts in a big effort to understand what these symbols mean by connecting them to the basic vocabulary.

What follows the arrival :: Louise also seems to have visions of her daughter at the same time, and it seems to connect with her process of knowing the new language. The nations and their leaders become restless as time passes, and all the spacecrafts remain at the same place without moving an inch. With the curiosity at its peak, the answer from the aliens on what they want seems to be “offer weapon” which alerts all countries. There is the fear of an upcoming threat from the aliens with some new advanced weapons, and some nations even mobilise their military as if to defend against a potential attack. China takes it one step further, as it gets ready to attack the aliens from its territory, and asks other world leaders to do the same. But Louise is convinced that there is something more to this alien arrival – what can it be? Can she stop a war?

The defence of Arrival :: We might have seen many alien invasion movies, but Arrival is the flick that successfully thinks differently with the basic idea. It is science fiction, and it has creatures from other planet, but it so close to life; it is something that not many movies of the same genre will find difficult to achieve. There is also a lot of beauty on screen, and the performances that support the whole thing. The feeling of a possible disaster runs throughout the movie, but there seems to be not more than one explosion in the whole movie. Amy Adams remains the big strong point of the movie, and along with Nocturnal Animals, this is another movie in which she scores amazingly high. Between Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League, she has got two perfect movies in there. Jeremy Renner and the visuals nicely compliment the same.

The claws of flaw :: A lot of people are certain to find Arrival to be kind of slow for their liking. There are too many things happening in this movie, and a lot of them are emotional, plus there is almost no big action sequence or destruction which people expect from these type of movies. Don’t judge this movie by the positive or negative opinions though, as Arrival is a kind of personal experience which needs the movie to be watched. It is also a little bit too philosophical – even though it is not that bad, that feeling is not there throughout the flick. A quicker pace, and a more twisted revealing of the surprise would have helped better too, but as this is based on a short story, it is up-to those who have read the tale to make a better analysis inside. The movie could have also been darker in its theme along with speeding up things. I am also sure that people would have expected more considering how the first half was going.

How it finishes :: Based on a science fiction short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang which had won the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella and the 1999 Sturgeon Award, Arrival might be the alien movie and the science fiction flick which you might have been waiting for, with a desire to concentrate less on action. It has won eight OScar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards as we look at them – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. Well, if these are not reasons enough to make you watch this movie, one has to wonder what else would have. I would wish for a nomination for Amy Adams for the Best Actress too, with this one and Nocturnal Animals too, but we can’t get them all, can we?

Release date: 11th November 2016
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma, Mark O’Brien

arrival

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Man of Steel

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Behold this moment, for this is that period of time when our childhood superhero, the most popular one of that time, would seem to be someone else when we look at the name of the movie which features him, but then we realize that he is still Superman.  He is the Man of Steel, as Batman is the Dark Knight, both rises and without any doubt, both would end. Both have changed and evolved so much that one can no longer use the common joke about Superman and Batman, what differentiates them from the common man without superpowers is the way they make the underwear into outerwear; for The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel no longer comes with the same, may be they found it incredibly difficult to find one, or in more modern terms, it doesn’t suit the new generation of so called stylish people who despite their own traditions in every possible way.  It is still good that they have learnt that what is to be worn inside should remain inside.  Actually, they are both not the superheroes who continue the legacy, as they move out of it.  Another thing is about this Steel Man and the Iron Man; considering the success of the Man of Iron, may be Man of Steel can make an impact close to enough to it, at least with the adults who still think Superman is a little childish, and with no doubts, too powerful for anyone to like. So, this is a new superhuman, as the alien takes a turn at the road not taken except for Christopher Nolan’s Batman.

This movie begins in another solar system, another galaxy, which might be strange for a superhero movie, as it is not usually expected unless the protagonist is He-Man of Eternia with all the focus on Castle Grayskull. But, this is a change which works quite well. We see that when the planet Krypton is facing total annihilation due to an unstable core, Jor-El and his wife Lara launch a small spaceship carrying their newborn son Kal-El and a genetic codex. Zod arrives in time, but fails to stop the launch; in rage, he murders Jor-El, but is captured, and he and his supporters are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, a prison which holds its prisoners who suffer for almost eternity, thus serving as a device for damnation beyond the control of Satan. But they manage to escape when Krypton explodes and their control over the jail is gone. They travel around different planets looking for life as well as things to salvage. Meanwhile, Kal-El lands on Earth and is discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their son. So, the Earth’s location and its peculiarities provide the kid with superhuman abilities, which he manages to control with the help of his foster parents. This is where Superman begins his second phase, and the first known phase of this whole sequence of origins.

Living a wanderer’s life fearing for his own power and the possible reaction of the people of Earth about his strength and abilities, he finds a Kryptonian spaceship fron under the ice and meets the hologram of his own father which explains to him more about himself and his origins. The Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane comes to know about the same, but decides not to publish about him without his consent. Meanwhile, Zod finds his existence and comes to Earth with his followers and it is where the twist of fate takes place and the fun begins with the life or death situations, not just for Superman, but also for all Earthlings, all threatened by the superior technology and weapons of the Kryptonians as well as their superhuman strength on Earth. As he plans to terraform Earth and make it another Krypton, eradicating the whole population and replacing them with the Kryptonians with the help of the genetic codex, Superman chooses the side with which he is not supposed to get along despite his own evolution, that is humans. This is the choice which will define him in what is to come, as he is the alien, ghost as well as the guardian angel. With the help of the military and whatever is on his side, he has to prepare for the final battle, as the Kryptonians launch a world engine which terraforms the planet.

I guess Zack Snyder’s movies have never really disappointed me it, as Dawn of the Dead was good, Watchmen was even better, 300 was very impressive, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole had my attention, Sucker Punch was much above the expectations, and here is Man of Steel which raises the expectations for the upcoming 300: Rise of an Empire for which it is incredibly difficult to wait. That should be a hundred percent record which is not seemingly inclined towards being broken. To add to it, the Greek hero of Immortals & the fairy tale princess-to-be from Enchanted make such a genuine combination on-screen even between such complexity and duality which surround an extraterrestrial heritage of thirty three years. Henry Cavill makes that super impact while Amy Adams as Lois Lane makes that character much more dearer to the viewers. Princess Giselle or Amelia Earheart from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will now be more of Lois Lane, and that less known Theseus surely has a more powerful real demi-god status this time. But this Superman is not just any other alien, as he is more human than any of the most wretched Earthling. He is more concerned about Earth and human life than the average common man who feeds on his own people and the mother nature. Superman is less involved with that title “super” which is a relief, as it is that word which one uses as a lie when many other words fail; welcome relief again.

As the movie is more inclined towards the Dark Knight series in its theme, but still resembles The Avengers in its alien invasion sequences, there is more to look forward to. Michael Shannon plays the impressive villain, General Zod – an iconic supervillain for sure. The villain is made for what he does, as the newborn babies are all created to be someone; to follow a path or duty – there is no moment when the person looks less focused on the one aim which is the return of Krypton’s life. It is more of a reflection of the current age, when the children are programmed into professional courses, rather than letting them make a choice. The result is just a profit-oriented world without morality and values, slowly moving towards total annihilation as in the case of Krypton. Antje Traue as Faora makes the villain’s sidekick, may be even as good as the General himself. Going back to her role in Pandorum, she is that person one might wish to watch in most of the action movies. Her fight sequence with Superman can be considered second only to the final battle. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, the editor in chief of the Daily Planet, is that role which is surely going to be explored a lot in case of a sequel. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane plays the roles of Superman’s adoptive parents, and Russel Crowe and Ayelet Zurer his real parents from Krypton, providing some of the best emotional moments of the movie.

The movie is about choices, as Superman chooses to be human and not of his kind, and also chooses to hide between the people with whom he doesn’t belong. He also chooses to end his planet’s last hope of survival by helping the Earthlings. That might have brought the end of his culture and heritage, and all those which he could have achieved as the hero of his own race. In all these decisions, he makes him the most vulnerable, more mentally than physically. Superman is more of a man than the super being, something we could never associate with him during our childhood. Right now, it will be just right to say that he has made himself the most righteous superhero, many times better than Iron Man, and also above his nearest competitors who are Batman and Spider-Man. Well, this is set to break box-office records for sure, and it is already pulling in too much crowd at this part of the world even for those shows which are usually not even a quarter full. The lower critical ratings of this movie compared to the ones like The Avengers and Iron Man 3 forms another thing which is out of this world. The former has such ratings that even Superman might decide to choose any random Kryptonite prison for eternity rather than seeing these one-sided opinions which so many people are actually forced to believe. The movie also proves this dialogue from Kill Bill wrong: “Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman.” Superman became superman because Earth made him so; he was nothing at Krypton. Everybody has life molded by choices, whether it is Superman, Count Dracula, Batman or Skeletor, and it is faith, belief and hope that guides one side, and the exact opposites the other.

So, Man of Steel is a must watch for all action fans, as this genesis go back to the planet of Krypton with stunning visuals and powerful sound effects. There is still the emotional element which has not let go; not yet. The effect of The Dark Knight series is also something which seems to hide, but still stays there. The action sequences are breath-taking, and one can see how well one superhero does all that the whole team in The Avengers could barely manage to do – some might disagree, and they can have enough reasons for that. Here is the man who can smash and also get beaten up like the Hulk and Thor, be aggressive and agile as the Iron Man, be righteous and true to the cause like Captain America, be as accurate as the Hawkeye, and be a better fighter than the Black Widow. This one has won the battle of superheroes this year, as Iron Man 3 would surely have to take the backseat, not by a long distance though, for both would seem to belong to different genres as we consider the souls of them. Thor: The Dark World wouldn’t stand a chance as far as the things seem to be now. This is where you see the need for He-Man and The Phantom again, but this year has been booked by the alien from the other planet, and there is nothing to be done other than to watch this one and enjoy it.

Release date: 14th June 2013
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Carter

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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.