Charlie’s Angels

Vampire Owl: I remember having watched those two older versions.

Vampire Bat: You mean the movies with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.

Vampire Owl: Yes, during those times, it was a change from the usual action movies which we managed to get locally.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I watched the movie at a time when the CD versions were just getting to be popular, replacing the video cassettes.

Vampire Owl: We have to go, like twenty years backwards. We are really old, aren’t we?

Vampire Bat: It is still a very small number of years in vampire time.

Vampire Owl: That is true, but when we look at the actresses involved here, we know that there is more to it than just vampire time.

Vampire Bat: Unless they come with something like Charlie’s Vampires.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that they would want vampires doing this job.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not, especially if they start running out of the usual options.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: John Bosley (Patrick Stewart), a senior operative, plans and executes a mission with his angels perfectly, and soon, enters retirement, with a programme which appreciates what he had done for a long time during his stay in the organization. Meanhile, Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott), an engineer working under the millionaire Alexander Brok (Sam Claflin), wants to take a secret out regarding their new project Callisto, and their head of development, Peter Fleming (Nat Faxon) who is planning something sinister. She understands that the device which was supposed to be used for clean and cheap energy, has potential to be weaponized, and some people already have eyes on that. She has a meeting with Edgar Dessange (Djimon Hounsou), and the two angels operatives Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) and Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart) has an eye on them in case something happens.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But, they are attacked by an assassin known only as Hodak (Jonathan Tucker), and are chased all around the city by him, until they end up in a river, and Edgar is dead. Rebekah Bosley (Elizabeth Banks) who is in charge, gets them together, and their injuries and troubles are taken care of by the person whom they referred to as the Saint (Luis Gerardo Mendez). They decide to sneak into Brok’s corporate headquarters so that they can steal the remaining Calisto prototypes before someone manage to use it, and make copies of it. Along with Elena, the other two angels also gets in using different ids, but despite their best efforts, they fail. Fleming has the only existing Callisto models, and they find him traveling to Istanbul, Turkey – they decide to follow them, with Elena also given the angel equipments, to serve as the electronics and computer expert, or rather the hacker. But can they find out the real villain here?

The defence of Charlie’s Angels :: Elizabeth Banks not only acts in this movie, but is also the director, and she has nicely managed to make this version of the angels a very entertaining one. There are some nicely managed action sequences, as heists, explosions and chases become just part of this movie which also manages to have a certain amount of humour maintained throughout its run, and its two hours of run-time ends quickly enough. Most of the credit for the same goes to Naomi Scott, both directly and indirectly. The visuals are good, with some interesting locations being explored by the camera along with the angels. It has to be said that was high time they had another movie in this franchise, as we always have space for films like these which takes things lightly, along with the serious ones which get all the sequels – Mission Impossible kind of stuff. This one is sure to make you ask for a sequel, not making one waiting too long.

The claws of flaw :: Considering the fact that this is a movie which has arrived years after the earlier version, there was a lot of time to bring some innovation, but there is no such thing being attempted here. The movie focuses more on action thriller cliches to make the best out of its material, but it should have opted for changes. The plot also has its own predictable elements, and the twist that it has is rather minute, and is not there to stay. As usual, there is the new recruit, the rookie who will learn things, and finally join the team, as beating up some evil men becomes a reason for them travel all around the world at a time when there was no COVID-19 – maybe they wouldn’t do that these days. You might also miss the great popularity of Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu, the three leads of the original version, as the actresses who play the same roles in this movie are those whom most of the film lovers of this part of the world might not be familiar with, except for Kristen Stewart.

Performers of the soul :: Elizabeth Banks, the director plays a major role in this movie, and does that well, and most people will always remember her for the role in the dystopian science fiction thriller, The Hunger Games, and its sequels. But the one who catches our attention the most is Naomi Scott, who plays the girl who changes from being clueless to becoming the angel. She was recently seen in Aladdin, and she was there in Power Rangers with Elizabeth Banks, playing one of the protagonists and the antagonist respectively. Ella Balinska is the next one to catch our attention, a relatively new face to most of us, who hasn’t really watched the movies in which she acted, and she makes one fine angel. Kristen Stewart was the one person whom I doubted when playing an angel because I had only seen her in the Twilight series and Snow White and the Huntsman, but she is surprisingly good here, and along with the other angels, she brings a lot of the funny side into action. Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Tucker are the appreciable male members of the cast.

How it finishes :: When we compare this new version of Charlie’s Angels to the old ones, this one seems to have a certain advantage with what seems to be a very energetic young cast and more fun than those which we had watched a long time ago, but we remember that we also loved them, and had that novelty with bigger names related to it. Not many movies which come back after a long time makes an impact, unless you have a Stephen King novel for support like Doctor Sleep. The movie is one light-hearted, quick, smart and humorous adventure which you will remember for long, and even bring a certain amount of nostalgia related to those older versions. There are only a few movies like Jumanji which can effectively use action and comedy, and Charlie’s Angels is a movie which has risen again to try and do that, and even though not as good as that movie on a game, this one is also a lot of fun to watch.

Release date: 15th November 2019
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Nat Faxon, Patrick Stewart

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Brightburn

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Superman is originally an evil entity from space?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I know that aliens are mostly bad, and this one also had to be evil.

Vampire Owl: Well, this movie seems to establish him as pure evil.

Vampire Bat: The movie of the usual alien invasion is to conquer or destroy Earth, and so we cannot be surprised about it.

Vampire Owl: I used to wonder how evil an alien can be. Can they be more evil than humans?

Vampire Bat: Why not? It is exactly why there are no vampire aliens. They are incapable of bringing the balance like the Earthlings.

Vampire Owl: I think that some aliens are immortal, like those myths.

Vampire Bat: They exhibit fake immortality, and will die soon enough.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the portal which Doctor Frankenstein opened, so that we could cross over to the other planets and galaxies.

Vampire Bat: Yes, silly humans are still using those outdated spaceships. They will never learn, even after the lock-down. Let them walk through some tall grass to have sense.

[Gets a masala dosa and three glasses of mango juice].

What is the movie about? :: Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman) do not have a child, and they are hoping for one, or at least adopt someone. It is then that the house shakes and they see a spaceship crashlanding in their yard. They find a child in the spaceship, and adopts him as their own son, without letting anyone else know. They hide the spaceship, locking it down in the barn so that nobody including the child finds it, letting this to be their own secret to keep for life. The couple just tells others that they had adopted a child, and everyone including the family and people of the small town of Brightburn accept him as their own. Everything goes smoothly for years, but it changes for a twelve year old Brandon Breyer (Jackson A Dunn) who are no longer the same, innocent child as he used to be – he is no longer the beloved son who loves his parents and obeys them, as he is called by the spaceship.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The spaceship which is locked inside a door within the barn keeps calling for him, and sends signals to him. Soon, he ends up finding his superhuman strength as he ends up throwing the lawnmower a long time away, while trying to start it, and finds his superhuman endurance as the motorized blades of the machine destroyed are by his hands which are not affected at all. His classmate Caitlyn Connor (Emmie Hunter) is the only who remains somewhat friendly to him, as everyone in the class and the whole school despised him due to his show of over-intelligence. But when he tries to enter her house at night, it causes a rift which leads to him breaking her hand, and also leading to Tori telling him the truth. This causes him to develop his next superpower, heat vision, and understands the message of the spaceship loud and clear while understanding the fact that he is special unlike the weaklings around him. Now, what will he do?

The defence of Brightburn:: There are some good scenes of horror in this movie, and the idea that Superman can be evil, always gets to scare us – especially when there is no Kryptonite to exploit his weakness. It uses some jump scares and there is that feeling of fear which is always there, as we are having an alien entity which cannot be stopped by anything that humans have. The idea of an evil child always works well enough, and we have inherent evil here, which is not of this world, but from another planet, from a far away galaxy. The child here becomes pure evil after the call of the spaceship, and there is not stopping this danger which is horrifyingly real. The superhero genre has its other dimensions here, and sets up for a sequel with what would have happened if Superman was really a threat in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, or how he was after he woke up from death as a different person.

The claws of flaw :: There is too much of blood and gore associated with Brightburn, and one often thinks if it was what required the focus around here. The focus should have been on the main character, the alien child’s character development, but the same is not there, as we see him change to become the slave of the spaceship, listening to all which is murmured to him. Even though the development of his superpowers can be seen, there is not much of a development in him as a person. There is that predictability which runs through the movie all the time. We know what is to happen next with this so called alien child from outer space, and in showing the same, the flick uses brutality the most, and depends on it rather than anything else, as if it is a certain kind of weakness it possesses. Within its short run-time, it shows very less of everything else.

Performers of the soul :: Jackson A Dunn plays the alien child, and he seems to be pretty good at it – the evil look comes to him well, and it will be interesting to see how he can work in a possible sequel, as this movie doesn’t explore his character that much expect for the being that evil alien child. Elizabeth Banks stays at the core of this movie, and she plays the lady with an extra dose of motherly love, which prevents her from understanding what kind of an evil demon her son was becoming. Even after so many years, she is someone whom we can always trust as long as horror movies are concerned – well, she was also there in The Hunger Games and its sequels and most of you do know her. David Denman is also pretty good as the husband and father. Emmie Hunter who plays the girl at school is also to be noted, as she has that Eva Mendez look, and does a good job.

How it finishes :: The idea of the alien who became the savior of Earth ending up bringing another idea that he became the exact opposite, is something worth thinking about. It is an interesting concept with the ant-superman super-villain finding his superpowers and using them against humanity, which has no defence against him at all. There are no superheroes, and only one terrifying villain who has not even grown up yet. The ending of this movie has enough to set up a sequel, and as of now, the movie works pretty well with its idea to set things for whatever is to come next. There is enough in this movie to keep the audience interested, as violent horror gets a thumbs up. Just like Corona virus these days, you know that evil always finds a way, and this alien creature does find the evil within, and maybe it is an advanced form of inherent evil in the child.

Release date: 24th May 2019
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: David Yarovesky
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Emmie Hunter, Jennifer Holland, Christian Finlayson, Abraham Clinkscales, Becky Wahlstrom, Anne Humphrey, Steve Agee, Gregory Alan Williams, Stephen Blackehart

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Power Rangers

Vampire Owl: I don’t really know these people. Are they from the shooting range?

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that you haven’t watched the 1995 Power Rangers movie? I thought we all had.

Vampire Owl: I already have too many superheroes, and they all have better names.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that you don’t remember Gabrielle Fitzpatrick as Dulcea.

Vampire Owl: Who in a ranger world is she?

Vampire Bat: I believe that you liked her a lot.

Vampire Owl: You talk about the girl in green.

Vampire Bat: Yes, she is the one. I see that you remember now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that she was no Poison Ivy of Batman.

Vampire Bat: Your superhero encyclopedia surely needs some special attention, and so does your memory.

[Gets three cups of special tea with Tiger biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A high school football star Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) gets dismissed from the team and has to go for detention after a prank fails miserably. It disappoints his father Sam Scott (David Denman) that he wasted his opportunities and reached this miserable state of life. There he comes up against Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), a nerd whom he saves from a bully. Billy asks for his help, and offers to deactivate his ankle monitor as well as lend him his van in return. Jason decides to help him even as he is doubtful about it. There, after providing some help to him at an old abandoned gold mine, he runs across Kimberly (Naomi Scott), his crush from the school, who is taking a bath in the nearby river – she tells him that she often goes through the place, as her home is on the other side. At the same time, Billy uses some explosives to break part of the rock in the quarry.

So, what happens next? :: The blast gets the attention of Jason and Kimberly, as well as two other students, Trini (Becky G) who is spending her lone time away from the family, and Zack (Ludi Lin) who lives nearby, taking care of his sick mother. There they pick up five pieces of rock, each having a different colour. They are chased by the mine’s security, and their car gets hit by a train, but they wake up at their houses, feeling different, and rather a lot powerful. They five teenagers return to the mine to find answers to what they are going through, and they find a space ship and inside, Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), a robot. He introduces them to the consciousness of the person known as Zordon (Bryan Cranston) who is supposed to have been a power ranger until he and his team of rangers were betrayed by another team member, the Green Ranger, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) who is also on Earth. He tells them that they are chosen.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: With the new power rangers being chosen, he tells them that it is only a matter of time until Rita finds her full strength, gets to the Zeo Crystal which will help her to destroy all life on Earth. The teenagers leave, but reluctantly come back as Jason convinces them that they need to try so that their powers don’t go wasted. They keep training with Alpha 5 and the simulations of Rita’s minions, but they are unable to morph, which means that they will have no power ranger suit or armour. Zordon is disappointed that the chosen ones are acting more like kids, and have no sense of purpose. Meanwhile, Rita awakens and goes on a killing spree, collecting all the gold that she can on the way, looting people and places, hoping to summon her favourite minion, the giant winged monster known as Goldar (Fred Tatasciore) made of gold. Can the rangers be good enough to stop her before she gets what she wants?

The defence of Power Rangers :: The new version is surely an improvement from the tales which have been going through, and with the improvement, this brings the nostalgia from the childhood, when we watched the rangers and felt that they were so good. The movie is light-hearted, and would appeal to kids more than anyone else. The movie does have the right cast at the top though, with Dacre Montgomery as the hero and leader, bringing the charm, while Naomi Scott, brings a beautiful presence supported by the right performance – we see more of Power Rangers in these two than anywhere else. RJ Cyler provides the comedy along with an emotional side. There are some nice action sequences, especially in the end, and we see another grand battle between the good and evil, with destruction all around. There are also some messages in the movie about superpowers and responsibilities, like the ones you find in an earlier Spider-Man, a later Iron Man, or even in the ideology book of Captain America.

The claws of flaw :: One has to admit that the nostalgia related to Power Rangers is applicable to less number of people. Not many people were qualified enough to get this deep into superhero stuff of Hollywood during that time, as some thought that it was for children, and other felt Hollywood to be clearly beyond them. This movie also has a tale which has been going on and on with not just this movie, but also with many others, whether it is of Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or that long list of superheroes from Marvel and DC – Power Rangers won’t sound that good, and will never be that effective with lesser known cast and teenagers there in the suits. When Avengers and Justice League will fight to save the world from alien trouble with better budget, one has to feel that this one will struggle forever – to go with it, the yellow and black rangers are not likable at all. The villain also seems to have replaced her fiery elements with something else – wonder what it is.

How it finishes :: The world has surely changed from those times when Power Rangers were there earlier. Now we have a long list of superheroes, and there is no shortage of people with superpowers wandering around on the screen – this would be the cause of Power Rangers no longer being an effective franchise at the box-office here. There is the nostalgia for sure, but this is just one of those lesser group of heroes to whom people have that feeling for. Power Rangers: The Movie of 1995 might be the one thing which would have gotten these superheroes those fans, especially considering the fact that this along with Starship Troopers, Waterworld and Vampires were a few of those Video CDs available during those times – also, a lot of the youth of that time liked Gabrielle Fitzpatrick more than the movie, as for some, she was more joy to watch. Therefore, Power Rangers had that less power here, but it is an entertainer, and can be watched without going too deep.

Release date: 24th March 2017 (US) 31st March 2017 (India)
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Becky G, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, David Denman, Caroline Cave, Anjali Jay, Patrick Sabongui, Erica Cerra, Kayden Magnuson, Fiona Fu, Sarah Grey, Emily Maddison, Jaime Callica, Matt Shively, Garry Chalk, Fred Tatasciore

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mockingjay II

mockingjaypart2 (1)

Vampire Owl: So, this is the name of the movie in reality. It was written here on this newspaper as Mocking Hay and I was wondering what it was about.

Vampire Bat: Here, on this other newspaper, it is written as Mockway. It is a more distant spelling. I do wonder what they might have called Goosebumps.

Vampire Owl: It is because of this wrong spelling that we felt that this was a movie which we knew nothing about, and made the choice not to watch it earlier! I don’t understand why they can’t have people who are able to spell this. I am beginning to doubt how they choose the people behind this.

Vampire Bat: They make such mistakes and still we read them. Then, we see that at some other editions of the same newspaper, and even at some other columns of the same, it is correct and then we are made sure that this particular title is another movie. I don’t understand why we are like this, looking at the mistakes, being mislead, understanding that it was too silly a thing and then continuing to read the same newspapers – actually, we even watch the same news channels which we don’t like.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://kiagia.co/index.php/current-film-releases/1200-the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-movie-review

A science-fiction dystopian adventure book from the US author Suzanne Collins was made into a movie in 2012, with Jennifer Lawrence playing the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. This movie adapted from the first book of The Hunger Games series was very successful. With The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire becoming grand success at the box-office, the third book in the series, Mockingjay was divided into two movies. Here we have the second part of the two, and this movie finishes the franchise. There was one movie in the franchise releasing each year from 2012 onwards, and the last three movies of the franchise have all released in the latter half of November.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) continues to be the Mockingjay and the one grand symbol of revolution as the districts unite against President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland). The attack from a brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) did affect her, but she is back there on the warzone with her speeches and charisma only to be shot by a loyalist from District Two. Even though Katniss wishes to kill President Snow herself, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) asks her not to risk her life again, and advices her to remain as the inspiration and the symbol of their defiance. As she is someone who can motivate the crowd with her presence, she agrees to Coin’s idea.

But Katniss is not the one to keep away from her ultimate aim, as she sneaks into an aircraft leaving to join Commander Paylor (Patina Miller) who is planning a huge assault. There, she is told to be part of a squad lead by Boggs (Mahershala Ali) as they have to evade the booby traps or the pods on the streets which are left by game-makers of the Hunger Games. Thus the journey will be more of less like the seventy sixth Hunger Games. They will be joined by Peeta as they are to go through the streets facing the unexpected threats which await them. The Capitol and Snow will think that she is dead, not once but many times, but Mockingjay is not someone who is going to stay dead as the squad keep going towards the big destination.

The problems caused by breaking down one book into two like Harry Potter and Twilight can be seen. The fans will surely prefer this because they can watch more of their favourite franchise. More of Katniss Everdeen will be there for them to see. But as the last book is divided into two, this movie surely has been cursed with a certain amount of drag. This certainly wouldn’t have been there if Mockingjay was just one movie instead of two stretched movies. But there is one advantage that this movie does possess, and it is the ability to finish the franchise in the right way. The finish is all about that climax which has one shot from the bow of the protagonist that determines everything, even though there are some predictable sequences after that.

The second part of Mockingjay is surely ahead of its predecessor because of the quality of the material in the latter part of the book. If you have read the book already, you will feel that this movie is a good adaptation even with the stretched parts. There are some nice conversations to go with the interesting action sequences, even as there is nothing much here to compete with those which we have seen in the first two movies. There are some traces of what was seen in the games earlier, but there is no big combats shown here. The special effects are good, and the dystopian world will once again grab your attention. The weapons as well as the other gadgets will also catch your eyes.

The movie has its touching moments and thrills which are surely present. There is also some reflection of the real effects of war on the common man which is nothing more than destruction and chaos. The lives of the civilians and morality are two things which are used to one’s advantage as shown here. But the movie does end with hope, despite the deaths, and we know this factor as something which was too far away in the previous movies of the franchise. For those who are new to this franchise, they will find themselves in trouble as the movie goes directly into the story, but with some focus, a certain clue about the dystopian idea and some understanding on what this franchise is about, they can still go through this movie.

As it was in the case of the previous movies, Jennifer Lawrence still remains the biggest asset as the Mockingjay. It is a pleasure to watch her as Katniss Everdeen once again, as she does her job with no trouble at all. As expected, she has and handles those best moments of movie; there is one other point which comes with a sudden impact, related to mutant creatures in the sewers – that was a grand one too. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth provide the needed support very well. Maybe, the movie could have finished better without using the epilogue from the book, even though that would be ignoring the faithful fans of the book. Here ends another movie based on another Young Adult Novel, and despite the flaws, it is a good finish to the franchise.

Release date: 27th November 2015 (India); 20th November 2015 (USA)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, Willow Shields, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Gwendoline Christie, Stanley Tucci, Evan Ross, Donald Sutherland, Mahershala Ali, Patina Miller, Stef Dawson, Paula Malcomson, Meta Golding, Wes Chatham, Elden Henson, Michelle Forbes, Omid Abtahi, Misty Ormiston, Kim Ormiston

mockingjayII

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Lego Movie

thelegomovie (1)

The Lego animation :: We all know Lego bricks, don’t we? Those interlocking plastic brick-like things were part of our childhood, and most of us did build a lot of things with them – one of our first teachers of creativity and imagination. Even as they came in many colours, the one I remember the most is blue, and I wonder how that comes to mind often; may be I broke most of the pieces of other colour, who knows? I had them strong until Hasbro came into my life with G.I. Joe. Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes and Daestro took over at that time. But where did my Lego go? I have to admit that I no longer knew anything about it, and I guess it passed on to my younger cousin brothers and sisters, and I had completely forgotten about the same until I came across the trailer of this movie; yes the Lego people were back, stronger than ever, and they had Batman and Wonder Woman for support. The toys had win hearts, and this was the time of the movies – lets see how they fare.

What is it about? :: Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is a wizard and one of the master-builders of the Lego universe, but he fails to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from taking over a superweapon Kragle. He still tells the villain about the prophecy about a special person who will stop his villainy. Years later, an ordinary construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) accidently finds “Piece of Resistance” which can stop Lord Business. As Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) captures him, he is rescued by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who takes him to another world where Vitruvius lives. As the wizard tries to make him imagine and create something like a master-builder, they find out that his creativity is zero, and he needs an instruction manual to create anything. The other master-builders, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Dumbledore, Shakespeare, Gandalf, Dracula, Green Lantern, Pirate Metal Beard and rest of the team are very much unimpressed by him as he makes a hopeless speech and shows his lack of creativity. But as time is less, they have to work together to find a way to stop the Lord before using the weapon. Can they do it?

The defence of The Lego Movie :: This is one of the funniest animated movies of the decade. even as one might wonder if Lego qualifies as animation. Their use of superhero characters is hilarious, and how they managed to bring them into the story is very nice, especially Batman. There is Batman saying “I only work in black. And sometimes, very, very dark gray” and Superman saying “I super hate you” to the Green Lantern. The Wonder Woman is not left behind in fun either, and Metal Beard jumps in like Blackbeard might have did. Uni-Kitty’s attempts to be happy and positive is another thing to watch out for. Even Abraham Lincoln and Michelangelo joins. There are dialogues like “Come with me if you want to not die” parodying The Terminator. I would still prefer Frozen any day, that is for sure. It is nice how a few other worlds are added to the original city of Lord Business, involving Wild West as well as Castles and Dragons settings.

The claws of flaw :: The 3D was totally unnecessary, not only is it ineffective, but it doesn’t suit this kind of toyline animation. It worked well with movies like Frozen and a good number of such titles, but when used with this, it is not effective, in my opinion. There could have also been an even better use of these characters, with our vampire guy and the Shakespeare guy given a better due. I didn’t like the way in which its central theme was exaggerated again and again, even as it was nice in the beginning. This is also too much of a common story, about a normal guy trying to save the world, even as the superheroes fails to do the same – for the same, the movie preaches a lot, and keeps saying that everyone is so special and shouldn’t go according to the rules. Looking at a whole world made of Lego looks fresh in the beginning, but keeps losing its charm. Its connection with the real world is interesting, but is still too weird or rather a little too unnecessary, but that worked, no doubt about it.

How it works :: There might be the usual misconception that a movie which shows so much of a toy-line can’t be that good. Now, that might still be valid even after the success of this movie. A major question might be about what they can come up with such a toyline which is all about construction; what can one bring out of Simcity? But here is the idea that changed that thought. Here is something that rivals the over-hyped animated movies like Brave. The voices are nice, and other than the two main characters, there is some really interesting stuff from Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop with that split personality, and Alison Brie as Uni-Kitty. Will Ferrell as Lord Business is another nice villain performance, just like he did with the voice in Megamind. Channing Tatum has a very short time as Superman, but that’s pretty nice too. Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius even comes back as a ghost, and that was a nice surprise. All the voice actors seem to become the character they were embodying.

Soul exploration :: The movie tells that everyone is special and there is the need to nurture the imaginations and show creativity rather than just follow the instructions. It comes up with he idea that almost anyone can make a difference, no matter how much immature or inexperienced that person is. Now, that sounds nice, but when it is completely against that order which works against chaos, there is a little bit loss of trust. It fails to set a limit to that imagination, and it is only in a perfect world under the best circumstances that such things can happen in the right way. Otherwise, instructions can always be helpful, no matter how much they are hated or opposed to prevent people from following them. The movie also doesn’t really come up on top when thinking about being special or adding more imagination, as it could have definitely used more as it neared the end. The end doesn’t justify the nice beginning, as there is the ordinary stuff that fills the finish.

How it finishes :: As we can see from the reviews all around, The Lego Movie finishes strong in the theatre. We should wait very long to meet someone who didn’t like this movie. As an animated movie, it is difficult to find errors from this movie, and almost everyone who have ever played with a Lego toy will like this one a lot, and this one also mostly applies to the rest. From what the year has to offer, this might be the best animated movie of the year. It surely has a colder reception here though, as there are not many screens showing the movie, and the maximum of about three shows or something among so many theatres and multiplexes, with not many viewers either. But it is indeed going on to become a global success, and it can surely stay in the top grossing movies of the year for some time. I can only be glad that this didn’t become one of those movies which didn’t release here, as there are so many movies of other languages which have occupied the screen at this time.

Release date: 7th February 2014
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring (voice): Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

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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.