Miss Peregrine’s Home

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Vampire Owl: I once knew a tooth fairy by this name. It was when I was having the best of times.

Vampire Bat: Oh! I thought you only knew witches during those days.

Vampire Owl: Stop being judgmental. She was a nice tooth fairy. She even dealt in fangs.

Vampire Bat: Okay, and then what happened?

Vampire Owl: She died and I embraced the fact that I was immortal. I really felt my eternity.

Vampire Bat: It could have been most romantic tale that I have ever heard, if I never knew how to read.

Vampire Owl: You just have no empathy. Even my zombie minions clapped to my story. It is a long one, and I can let you hear it if you provide me with one hundred and thirty four days.

Vampire Bat: No, thanks. Why don’t you write a book instead?

Vampire Owl: I don’t write anymore. I spread ideas through telepathy.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I can see your ideas taking over the world from a very long distance.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with tapioca chips].

What is the movie about? :: Jake (Asa Butterfield) has grown up listening to the tales which his grandfather Abe Portman (Terence Stamp) has told him about battling monsters along with fighting the World War II. The centre of attraction in all of these stories is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which has Miss Alma Peregrine (Eva Green) as the headmistress, and the place has children with some amazing abilities, and are called peculiars. Each of these special abilities make them what they are, and this headmistress herself is more than what meets the eye. His parents are not that fond of these strange, folk-tale kind of stuff that Abe is feeding his grandson, and wishes that they could stick to the usual things. But things are not that easy as they seem to be.

So, what happens next? :: One day, he gets a call from his grandfather and later finds him with his eyes missing. Before he dies, he leaves Jake with some clues to what he is to do, and there is also a monster there, which disappears. Left clueless about what he is to do next, the psychatrist tells them to go to this particular place mentioned by Abe, and it is the only thing that can make him believe that it is all fiction, with stories made up by the old man every day. So, accompanied by his father, Jake travels to Cairnholm and finds that the children’s home mentioned by his grandfather was destroyed during a Nazi air raid on September third, 1943. But he is surprised to find a number of children there, who seems to be more than just normal. They invite him to their secret place.

So, how do things go from here? :: There he meets Miss Peregrine who explains to him that she can manipulate time and belongs to a special class of peculiars called ymbrynes. To live in peace, she has created a time loop which repeats all over again and again on the third of September, 1943 just before the bomb falls on their building. As they keep living the same day again and again, none of them ages either. There he understands that a team of monsters called Hollows, lead by Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) hunt Peculiars to devour their eyeballs hoping to gain immortality in the process. With these people on the hunt for more peculiars and waiting to enter the loops, can Jake save the day, and also save his new found love interest, the aerokinetic Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell)?

The defence of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children :: The movie is undoubtedly something that looks very good on the screen – the setting, the costumes and the special effects; they all look impressive. The pace gets better, and by the time it reaches the end, we are very much into one loop or two. The movie has a good mix of things, and never really gets lost in what it has to provide us – and it has been done in style. Among all the cast, it is Ella Purnell who leaves something beautiful with her charming performance. Then there is Samuel L. Jackson who once again scores high as the antagonist – there are some dialogues from him which are so much memorable; Eva Green also follows the same path, but on the other side. Asa Butterfield reminds one, and brings some of the Harry Potter effect in this one too.

The claws of flaw :: There is no shortage of the feeling that we have seen this before so much. We have always known X-Men and what they called as the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The peculiar children just become another version of the X-Men when they were all younger. There is also no big mission to do here, which makes this not that much of a flick that most people would have expected. The monsters remind one of some Guillermo del Toro effect, as if Pan’s Labyrinth or Crimson Peak has decided to have a peek – they are still not that less interesting. With its magic and its protagonist accompanied by the magic, one is certain to feel some amount of Harry Potter in this one. There is also the lack of best use of the available resources – this could have been one big movie of magic, but that much is certainly not there.

How it finishes :: Tim Burton surely brings something special in making these kind of movies, as we have already seen in the two nice Johnny Depp starrers Dark Shadows and Alice in Wonderland, both having their fantasy elements at the right places. Well, referring to the same actor with this man at the helm, there was also Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Also in that list is Planet of the Apes, which I consider better than the franchise which is going on now, and that earlier special flick, Sleepy Hollow. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children might be the kind of movie which had left people wondering about what it contains, but based on a book by American author Ransom Riggs, seems to have left us with enough to be interested in, watching the whole thing on the screen.

Release date: 30th September 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Lauren McCrostie, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson, Finlay MacMillan, Pixie Davies, Cameron King, Georgia Pemberton, Milo Parker, Raffiella Chapman, Hayden Keeler-Stone

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Maleficent

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The Sleeping Beauty :: There are not many of us who don’t know the Sleeping Beauty or Princess Aurora, being as famous as the little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Gretel and Rapunzel, may be a little more popular than Goldilocks – the heroines of the tales of our childhood, at least belonging to some of them. Red Riding Hood returned darker in 2011, Snow White in 2012 and Gretel in 2013. All these movie have been coming up with a darker version of the old fairy tales. I have felt that there is nobody like Amanda Seyfried to be a fairy tale character. I have found these re-imagining of stories pretty much interesting except for Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Snow White which ruined it for me. There is always something about seeing a story which you have known in the childhood presented in another way, and with this movie coming from the perspective of the antagonist who features in the posters and impresses us, Maleficent was not going to be a movie to be missed. Well, it is not always about the princess; for there are so many things which are not royal, but is yet better than they are. Then, this movie has Angelina Jolie; a long time since she was last seen in a movie – I guess the last ones were two fine movies, The Tourist and Salt in 2010.

What is it about? :: Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a faeire living in the magical forests which the human kingdom has always wished to capture. Despite having no king or standing army, the forests have always managed to keep the armies of the greedy human king away. She actually serves a certain kind of leader to the creatures of the woods, being the only faerie of human size. Her only human acquaintance is Stefan (Sharlto Copley) whom she met when they were both kids and grew up together, falling in love. As the old friend and lover returns one day, she lets him in, only to have her wings taken away from her. Maleficent, in her state of sadness, pain and anger turns darker with her magic, and with that, turns the magical fairy kingdom darker, depriving it of the colours. With a shapeshifting raven Diaval (Sam Riley) for company, she decides to give the man who betrayed her what he deserves. The current situation is that the man is now the king of the human kingdom, and his wife has given birth to a baby girl. She finds that her window of opportunity to march to the castle and give the newborn baby a gift from her dark magic which will make sure that her former lover would remember her for a very long time.

The defence of Maleficent :: No matter what other movies might have, we have Angelina Jolie here, coming back to the big screen after a long time, except for her voice that we heard in in Kung-fu Panda. Maleficent has a lot of visual splendor, right from the beginning when we are introduced to the cute little protagonist faeire who sleeps on a tree at the top of a cliff, flying around and having her fun with the creatures of the magical woods. All these creatures are nicely created to give us a taste of the magical forest in such a way that we can feel that it is different from the human side as well as the darker side to which we are introduced later. The trees surrounding the faerie world as well as the mounted warriors of nature also needs some special mention. But what thrives is the awesomeness of her with those wings and the final dragon. The cute ones are rather those which you usually expect to see. The movie’s environmental theme is real good, but it could have been used in a more visible manner. The difference in the story is nicely worked out even if not fully utilizing the available resources. The 3D is effective at times. The kids are going to love this one, that is for sure.

The claws of flaw :: Maeficent reminds us of so many movies, including Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Oz the great and Powerful, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hansal and Gretel: Witch Hunters and finally, Snow White and the Huntsman which had Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart instead of Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning here, even as this movie is surely better except for not having, may be Charlize Theron. There was the need for more imagination, which is why this movie struggles and drags at parts. It actually remains too predictable at times, and when it is not, it just manages to make its story good enough. With the classic story of the sleeping beauty in the pocket, they could have done better, may be with a better information about how this one big faerie came into existence as one of her kind, and how she mastered black magic getting so powerful. Another question would remain about the mental state of Princess Aurora whom we know is the one narrating. Some things just happen here, and even as there is the unreal atmosphere around, it needs to explain within that circle, but it doesn’t, and also fails to connect with the audience emotionally at times. The jokes and other dialogues are not memorable.

Performers of the soul :: Angelina Jolie has everything under control in this movie. Just like the poster, she has herself inscribed all around the movie; she is majestic as the defender of the magic realm when left with her wings, and magnificent as the sorceress who takes on the powers of dark magic when deprived of her wings. It is really a joy to watch her in such an avatar; I have always felt that she would make a great villain, an evil sorceress – this feeling of mine has actually come to screen with this one. The horns, the wings, the black dress and the wicked smile; then there are those cheekbones and the fury in the eyes, they are all perfect. The idea of sending the enemy’s daughter into eternal sleep on her sixteenth birthday – now she is indeed fit to give such a curse. Even the girl who plays her childhood was so good. The beautiful magical world indeed belongs to her! Elle Fanning, the sister of Dakota Fanning (Jane Volturi of the Twilight series) plays the role of Princess Aurora in the movie. She is the next best thing as she becomes one of the cutest princesses one has ever seen on screen, and wait until you see with a crown on the head in the end. Sam Riley’s human-raven hybrid avatar was nice. Sharlto Copley made a pretty good villain, but with not enough space and screen time.

Soul exploration :: Maleficent is not just a story of the past or unreality. It is in many ways parallel to what is happening in our world. They not only keeps the famous villain in the shades of grey and closer to white, they also divides its world into the human world of science and technology and the magical world where nature thrives. The humans are always motivated by that desire to destroy nature with their new scientific inventions after looting whatever wealth they can find from there. The human king and his subjects fear what they can’t understand, because it is beyond their scientific explanations, and it is the same reason why they feel that it should be destroyed. But the wealth of the forest in also too attractive, and thus they keeps making an attempt to take control of the territory and deprive it of the resources. On one side, there are the greedy humans, and on the other side, there are the creatures of the forest who live a happy life even with no control or rules imposed by the society. The enemies of the faeries are the products of new technologies, and in this case, iron. The movie is a battle between the righteous nature and the evil man’s scientific inventions, the same thing that happens in the present.

How it finishes :: Maleficent is not a movie that you can avoid even in the presence of a number of regional movies which have gained positive reviews; in our case, those like How Old are You and Bangalore Days. It doesn’t have the power to make a huge impact in the presence of the other movies, but one can’t deny that it has its magnets to attract, starting from Angelina Jolie. The movie is short too, and thus making sure that it won’t lose its way moving towards the end that has quite the difference that is needed. Yes, there is no true love, and all that romance and stuff is a lie – this movie has such dialogues throughout, claiming that true love doesn’t exist, and even the breaking of curse is supposed to be by true love which everyone knows doesn’t exist. Now, I would say that it is a great step taken when the stories of dumb romance have been spreading through the air. This realization that human beings are inherently evil and there is no love between even the most seemingly romantic couple, is what contributes powerfully to the dark and powerful side of this movie, which has to be appreciated. Yes, this is that kind of a world when the prince gets drunk on the way to the castle, arrives late, and the sleeping beauty dies; end of the story.

Release date: 30th May 2014
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Robert Stromberg
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Miranda Richardson, Lesley Manville, Kenneth Cranham, Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, Eleanor Worthington Cox, Janet McTeer, Ella Purnell, Isobelle Molloy, Toby Regbo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.