The Lost Village

Vampire Owl: I was looking for blue creatures in our realm. There has been none.

Vampire Bat: After orcs had chosen green and goblins also choosing the same, the popularity for blue has been decreasing.

Vampire Owl: And these werewolves always come in black.

Vampire Bat: Just like those Batman gadgets.

Vampire Owl: Even Mr. Luttappi is just red, you know.

Vampire Bat: Do you even remember having watched these Smurfs movies?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I can clearly remember that I have watched them both.

Vampire Bat: Okay, then talk about something that you remember more than the rest.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that there was anything in particular – there was the village, blue people, bad wizard with a cat…

Vampire Bat: It was the main problem. They were not at all memorable.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: In the secret Smurf Village, the Smurfs continue to live a happy life, hidden from the evil that await in the outside world. Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), their leader takes care of them as a fatherly figure, and things go on quite normally through times. Among those Smurfs who are given names according to their character or purpose are Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello) and many others, with even the strangest of names. It is only Smurfette (Demi Lovato) whom, despite being admired by all other smurfs as the only girl smurf around, seems to have no sense of purpose. As she was created by the evil remorseless wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) from a lump of clay to use as the means to catch other smurfs, now she has no meaning of life, transformed into one of them, and out of the evil ways. It keeps bothering her most of the time.

So, what happens next in the adventure? :: With Gargamel on a mission to capture the Smurfs, steal their blue essence, and become the strongest wizard in the world, Smurfette and her friends sneak out of their village. Gargamel’s pet cat Azrael (Frank Welker) and his pet vulture Monty (Dee Bradley Baker) are also on the look out for any sign of a smurf in the woods. Smurfette comes up against a blue creature hidden by leaves, which runs away into the Forbidden Forest, and leaves a hat behind. She as well as the hat is taken by Garamel, who uses it to discover the location of a new group of smurfs with his magic. She is rescued by her friends, and all of them get grounded by Papa Smurf for disobeying him. But she is determined to save these lost smurfs from the evil wizard, and with her friends, set out for Forbidden Village, no matter how forbidden it is for her people. At the same time, Gargamel, Azrael and Monty also set out in search for the new village.

And what is to follow with the blue people against a wizard and his minions? :: The smurfs are attacked by Gargamel and his team, and is presumed dead by the evil wizard, but they escape with the help of a few bunnies. It is quite the dangerous mission that they are up against, as they have no idea what dangers lie ahead in a world which has been forbidden to them for such a long time. There they come up against animals and plants which are not normal, and soon they would be on a race against Gargamel, Azrael and Monty who are also traveling on the same route. Surprised to find each other again, they race, only to have Gargamel drowning in the river. After Hefty and Smurfette support the idea of saving him, he throws the smurfs down the waterfalls instead of thanking them. But they survive, and travel on land. They are soon trapped by the blue creatures under the leaves. They are supposed to be smurfs aren’t they? If they are smurfs, they are surely in danger, right?

The defence of Smurfs: The Lost Village :: There are good visuals for this one, that is for sure, and we get to see some nice animation not just with the characters, but also with the world. There is no more the mixture of the real world and the animated world, which is also a nice thing – also, there are no humans in this one except for the big evil wizard; it is another positive thing, as the mixture can have big problems with working. This is indeed cute and sweet too, and with all the colours around, the kids are going to enjoy it without doubt, and everyone else is going to have their childish side awakened. There are occasions when you feel that this is the kind of movie which you would have loved to watch during your early childhood, but wasn’t there; we are always happy that we had those Doordarshan cartoons like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ducktales, Talespin and Tom and Jerry, but we imagine ourselves having such a treat, but childhood is long gone, a sad thing indeed.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is without doubt, predictable from the first moment itself. It is not like the same becomes a big problem in an animated feature film which is prone to the same. But you know that there have been exceptions like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out and others which have deviated from the expected path during the journey more than once. Smurfs: The Lost Village never really stands a chance against the animated movies of our times, with How to Train Your Dragon 2, Finding Dory and Kung Fu Panda 3, all being pretty cool sequels inheriting the original’s qualities. Just like its predecessors, this one has predictability written into it. The movie also has too much focus on one character whose search for her purpose gets rather repetitive. There is also the inability to capitalize on a funny side which always had the chance to be better. It even has a villain who is not even half smart as his cat, and that is not used to bring enough laughter. Better and smarter story in also not on cards.

How it finishes :: Smurfs: The Lost Village can be seen not to deviate, not inside the movie, and also not within the franchise. But it surely manages to be one of the most appropriate movies for the kids, with not much left to ponder about except for finding one’s purpose in life, and it leaves the message that being good will bring that meaning of life on this day, or at some other point – there is only the need to wait for the same. During these time when the life as well as the movies are so complicated, this kind of cuteness becomes rather necessary, and let the simplicity of this one save us from the complex evil of a world which is slowly and steadily being taken over by those who have no heart. The Smurfs franchise is becoming more interested in being the brand which has movies to add to it rather than flicks with big tales. Well, there is more than one than one way to go around with things, and cute little creatures are more than just fair for children.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Jake Johnson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts, Gordon Ramsay, Tituss Burgess, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Kelly Asbury, Bret Marnell, Melissa Sturm, Frank Welker, Dee Bradley Baker

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Lego Batman Movie

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that he is not your relative who left home many years ago?

Vampire Bat: No, Batman is not related to any of us. You can refer to any vampire code.

Vampire Owl: But bat is still the most popular thing in vampire mythology, and might link to all of us.

Vampire Bat: And Batman is the most popular superhero, thanks to Christopher Nolan.

Vampire Owl: I am rather surprised by the same. I had thought that humans never really liked the bats.

Vampire Bat: They are really not fond of the owls either.

Vampire Owl: It is their loss not to like the owls. I even have plans to save humans from extinction.

Vampire Bat: But your plans have always been about taking over the world.

Vampire Owl: Taking over the world is very significant as a part of saving the world.

Vampire Bat: Batman surely won’t like that.

[Gets three cups of black tea with a piece of marble cake].

What is the movie about? :: From the usual DC universe, we are taken to the Lego universe, where Batman (Will Arnett) continues to fight crime like no other, in the Gotham City, something which he seems to have been doing for an eternity and more to come. The caped crusader remains the city’s last hope against a large group of villains including the menacing king of them all, the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), his love interest and most faithful follower Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate), and the rest of them – a list having Two-Face (Billy Dee Williams), Poison Ivy (Riki Lindhome), Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Penguin (John Venzon), Killer Croc (Matt Villa), The Riddler (Conan O’Brien), Bane (Doug Benson), Mr. Freeze (David Burrows), Scarecrow (Jason Mantzoukas) and Clayface (Kate Micucci) among others. Batman also remains Gotham’s most loved figure, even though he doesn’t have a social life otherwise.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: During one of the Joker’s master-plans including a group of Gotham’s master-criminals, he faces Batman talking about himself as Batman’s greatest opponent of all-time, without whom the man with the bat symbol would have no purpose. He tells Batman that he is the reason why Gotham’s favourite superhero has to wake up every morning and be what he has been for many years. Having given the difficult option of catching him or saving the city, Batman chooses to let him go without second thoughts, telling him that he is not important, and even Superman (Channing Tatum) is more interesting than him. With his feelings hurt being not even as important as an alien who can’t be a bad guy, Joker decides to have the ultimate revenge on Batman, and make him as well as everyone in the city understand how significant a villain he is.

And what follows the same in the movie? :: Meanwhile, Batman leads a boring life as Bruce Wayne, having only his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) as the one close to him. His only other big friend is the Batcomputer (Siri), and he spends his lonely time in the Batcave, doing everything by himself. Later, the city is having the programme of retirement of Commissioner Gordon (Héctor Elizondo) and the ascension of his daughter Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) as the new police commissioner of Gotham City. There, Barbara plans to have the police do the work, and not the vigilante Batman who hasn’t been that much successful as expected. It is then, that Joker also comes in with most of the other criminals, and they all surrender, leaving Batman with nothing to fight for. But both Batman and Barbara are doubtful about Joker’s real intention. What would that be?

The defence of The Lego Batman Movie :: The movie clearly follows the path of The Lego Movie, and the feeling of the same is maintained in this one. This also manages to be slightly better than the original movie. The jokes are very much working right from the beginning, and most of them nicely make fun of the superhero movies, especially Batman and Superman with those super-villains. It does manage to take the elements of a superhero movie, and nicely use them in the tale to create the humour. There are also villains from outside the DC, including Lord Voldemort, Sauron, King Kong, Witch of the West and Agent Smith. We can also consider this one was a sarcastic take on how the superhero movies are made, and how the characters are created in them. Batman’s attitude towards Superman, as well as to Iron Man, all becomes part of the fun, as the tale is rather re-written here, and this is also one of the best depictions of Batman and Joker relationship, even though funny.

The claws of flaw :: This one doesn’t become your usual animated movie, if you look at it closely. It can’t be associated with the beauty of the animated movies which have ruled our minds, like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out, Rise of the Guardians or anything similar. All jokes don’t come strong either. There will always be people who don’t like this kind of animation, and also those considering Batman as something bigger than everything else, who will find parody done in a cruel way when they look at this one. There is also quite a slow middle part for this one, and the childish ways also follow this movie. There is a certain exaggeration which is also there as we look further into each character. Also in the end, except for Batman, nobody else has really changed, which makes this movie something about him and him only, as the character talks about all the time. This could have surely been wider with its message, and also more focused on the world.

How it finishes :: There are a few lessons which the DC Extended Universe can take from this movie too, and can apply when they come up with another movie in the franchise. Even though The Lego Movie was a good movie without doubt, we have a pleasant surprise here as this movie manages to come up as a fine spin-off to the same. There are so many moments that will remain in your mind to come back again when watching a superhero movie again, like Batman keeping the password for his computer as “Iron Man sucks”, the never-ending hate between Batman and Joker, the strange friendship or the lack of the same between Batman and Superman, and many other things. We could have had many superheroes about whom a spin-off from The Lego Movie could have made, but it is about Batman because after The Dark Knight franchise, everything had deviated in his way, and most of the fans will find it easy to say that Iron Man sucks for Batman – even the coming of Wonder Woman won’t change much – Batman will always be Batman, and as the movie asks, we can only be ourselves, as we can’t be Batman.

Release date: 10th February 2017
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Chris McKay
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, Siri, Héctor Elizondo, Lauren White, Mariah Carey, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Billy Dee Williams, Riki Lindhome, Conan O’Brien, Jason Mantzoukas, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Doug Benson, David Burrows, Matt Villa, John Venzon, Laura Kightlinger, Todd Hansen, Chris McKay, Richard Cheese, Channing Tatum, Ellie Kemper, Jonah Hill, Adam DeVine, Brent Musburger, Ralph Garman, Chris Hardwick

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Secret Life of Pets

Vampire Owl: I told you that they had secrets, very dangerous ones.

Vampire Bat: Who are you talking about here?

Vampire Owl: The pets. The minions. The zombies. They all have such secret lives.

Vampire Bat: Actually, this movie is not about your theory of animals stealing your writings. It never really happened, and is just a vampire conspiracy theory.

Vampire Owl: What? No! I know that they are having evil plans against us.

Vampire Bat: How can you look forward to big evil plans in an animated movie?

Vampire Owl: Animated evil is still evil, and it can also be brutal.

Vampire Bat: This one even won 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards.

Vampire Owl: Then I will look for the same in another evil animated movie.

Vampire Bat: Okay, just leave this one as a simple animated movie for now.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with a blueberry cake piece].

What is the movie about? :: A Jack Russell Terrier named Max (Louis CK) is living happily with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in an apartment in the city. He wishes to spend most of his time with her, but she has to go to work. After Katie leaves, he spends his time with other pets who also live in the same building: a fat, apathetic and proud cat Chloe (Lake Bell), a smart and always excited pug Mel (Bobby Moynihan), a happy and easy-going dachshund Buddy (Hannibal Buress), and also a parrot Sweetpea. There are also other two significant pets, Norman (Chris Renaud), a guinea pig who keeps losing his way in the apartment, and Gidget (Jenny Slate), a white Pomeranian dog on the opposite apartment having a desperate crush on Max, but haven’t been able to tell him that due to fear of rejection. All the pets socialise and lead a different life after their owners leave.

So, what happens next? :: As things go like this without anything new or special happening with their lives, Katie adopts Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a large mongrel from the dog pound. This leaves Max jealous about having to share his house and also his belongings with someone new. Despite Duke’s repeated attempts to make a deal to share things, Max doesn’t agree and claims everything for himself. He even attempts to make Max look bad in front of Katie even though she has decided to share her love between the two. Angry at Max’s attitude towards him, Duke tries to teach him a lesson outside, but they are both a group of stray cats who remove their collars and leave them on the streets to be caught by Animal Control. Max is desperate to get home again, while Duke is afraid that he will be put down if he goes back to the dog pound.

And then how do things go from there? :: But things don’t end there for them as help is on the way. There is Snowball (Kevin Hart), a white rabbit who leads a rebel group of pets who were mistreated and disowned by their owners. Max and Duke are saved, and they go with anti-domestication gang into the sewers, hoping to find their way back home one day. There are tales of cruelty from humans against the pets told by the members of the group, and hatred runs wild against the human species. As Max and Duke also pretend to hate humans, and even claim to have killed one, Snowball invites them to join the group. But their earlier enemies, the stray cats come in and tell the truth, and they escape, but not without Snowball on their trail vowing to kill them as they had ended up accidentally killing their holy viper. So, the question remains if they can save themselves, or even their old friends find them and save them before Snowball gets his hands on them?

The defence of The Secret Life of Pets :: The movie nicely takes on the other world, leading us through the imaginary space that our pets consider theirs. The voice cast is very much suitable, and there is lot of fun in store in this one. The kids are going to love this one, as already proven with Kids’ Choice Awards, and the people with pets will love it even more. This will appeal the most to the owners of dogs, but the rest also gets their due. There is the message of adjusting to the situations and also to consider the feelings of others, keeping family and friends close to each other. It also tells the owners of animals and birds to be nice to them, and to keep them close and provide the needed, as they are required to be. Well, we get to associate with more pets than we think we will have to; and The Secret Life of Pets will come into the mind more than once. The whole thing remain cute, even with the talks of murdering others.

The claws of flaw :: There are times when The Secret Life of Pets gives that feeling that we have known and seen this before; there are also moments of predictability and repetition, something that the animated movies have struggled so hard to avoid. There will no new level of animated awesomeness to be set here, and this one surely trails in front of the two big animated movies of the year, Moana and Zootopia or the earlier big one, Inside Out. The movie also focuses on the dog’s side, and it is no surprise with the number of people who have or feel the need to have the dog rather than any other. But a tale about pets like this one could have had more of the cats, and hopefully the sequel will have the same. It is a need, and with this stereotyping that has been going on and on with cats and dogs, maybe there will be a day on which all these things will turn the other way around – it is that day which will have the best of movies of this kind, and we hope that it is The Secret Life of Pets 2 that we can talk about like that.

How it finishes :: With the sequel coming up in the year 2019, what the makers need to realise is that a movie like The Secret Life of Pets doesn’t need to focus that much on making people laugh, because it is funny – maybe some divergence is what the second movie of this series should be having. There is no doubt about the box-office too with this one becoming the highest grossing original animated movie which is not produced by Disney or Pixar, and The Secret Life of Pets is also the the sixth highest grossing film of 2016. It is even above the much hyped movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So, the first movie is a winner in so many ways, and what we will need to have is something different and special in the second one, thus maybe even going on to win the Academy Awards for the Best Animated Feature Film – even that much can be done with this material.

Release date: 8th July 2016
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Chris Renaud
Starring: Louis CK, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan, Albert Brooks, Chris Renaud, Michael Beattie, Sandra Echeverría, Kiely Renaud

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.