Tiyaan

What is the movie about? :: Pattabhiraman Giri (Indrajith Sukumaran) is living a happy and normal life with his wife Amba (Ananya) and his only daughter, Arya (Nakshatra Indrajith). They belong to a small group, including Malayalis who reside in a small village, somewhere in North India. He comes from a long line of Brahmins who have a huge legacy. But the respect and the admiration that he has in the village due to his good nature, closeness to God and kindness lands himself in trouble as Mahashay Bhagavan (Murali Gopy), a famous godman with millions of followers wishes to build an ashram there. While a number of people are forced to run away from the village in one way or the other, a few others like Jayanthan Nair (Suraj Venjaramoodu) decides to become the poweful godman’s latest disciple, and find a place to stay within his ashram after selling his assets to the spiritual organisation and being assured of some monthly earnings.

So, what happens next? :: Mahashay, whose original name is Remakant, was a disciple of the great spiritual guru, Vasundhara Devi (Padmapriya Janakiraman) who was found dead in her ashram, after which the man has been everything about the organisation. He is so powerful that almost every V.I.P. in the belt worships him – the Chief Minister himself visits him so often, and has declared his victory even before the election began as he has the blessings of this godman. With all these people in his pocket, the police is also helpless, focusing more on dealing with smaller cases, or those which will make the politicians happy, making the common man suffer in the absence of law and order. He has branches of his ashram in different parts of India, and has spread abroad a lot during the recent times. He has everything planned all the time, and keeps getting what he wants.

And, what is to follow next in this tale? :: Pattabhiraman is determined to keep his ancestral home at any cost, and he finds it his duty and privilege to do the same. Mahashay provides him with time until Shivaratri to come up with the right decision, which is to leave his place and go back to Kerala after accepting the compensation and the blessings from him; otherwise, there is only the curse that will await him. Almost everyone who is left in the village has accepted this new godman as their new saviour and guru, as they feel that it is the only option as well as the right choice for the future. It is during these troubled times that he comes across Aslan Mohammed (Prithviraj Sukumaran) who offers him help. One day, while looking for Aslan and not finding him, Pattabhiraman is told the tale of Aslan by another man, Jameel Askari (Shine Tom Chacko). Aslan might not be the man whom Pattabhiraman thought he was, but can he be of help?

The defence of Tiyaan :: The thought-provoking moments of Tiyaan are intense, with that intensity like never before. The dialogues are stronger than ever, and we feel all the correct emotions in each of them, whether it is anger, hate, fear or grief. There are signs of what is to come from the beginning itself, and we feel how this is going to be something different, and it is. The whole thing remains a thought-provoking saga, and we are left with hope in a world which doesn’t have much of the same with almost everyone being hypocrites. There might be complexity within, but the final message is rather too simple, with all religions leading to one God, and love being the path. There are only some people who use the name of God in vain, and use it to hate and kill others; but our culture has always been in favour of diversity, and in our world, we have always been one. It is only the corporate side and the rest who are seeking mileage political or social, spreading the hate, as it is shown in the movie – it is all for the rich and influential as the rest suffers. The visuals are really good too.

The claws of flaw :: Tiyaan is too long a movie, and this much of a length doesn’t work in favour of such a flick. It is predictable at parts, and the flashback story is not that interesting. There are those parts of the movie which could have had more focus on them than the rest, but the movie just leave some of them behind. The philosophical side just hesitates to go any deeper, and the mass takes over when things could have been rather natural and realistic. One can only wonder what more this flick could have achieved with the material that it possessed, and considering the way it began and set everything ready by the interval. The final scene about the link between the two protagonists from the past might actually be the lowest point of the movie, and it was never needed to exist. Even though this is a Malayalam movie, there is less presence of the language, and the common audience will have trouble with the same.

Performers of the soul :: The movie focuses on Indrajith in the first half and on Prithviraj in the second. While the former returning after Lakshyam has quality time on screen in those beginning stages, the latter returning after Ezra finishes off in style, and also brings something for the mass in the second half. The fact that even after the performances, considering our common nature, some fans will also have to write imposition to remember the message for daily life. There is one dialogue from Indrajith about what is spoken by God and what is added by humans for their convenience – that one stays for so long. Then there is Prithviraj talking about selfish people and the rest of the world, so much charm there. Murali Gopy’s godman act is something that will be remembered for his way of bringing that character to its full strength right from the beginning. We also see Indrajith’s daughter Nakshatra doing so well, and Ananya is there in a short role done fine. Suraj Venjaramoodu does nice when he is there, and the same can be said about Shine Tom Chacko.

How it finishes :: On one side, we get those movies made in a hurry as if they have just got the dates of superstars and there is no time – on the other side, there are movies like Tiyaan which seems to be well-thought, and made to suit the times. They could have done without those overdone action sequences and the larger than life flashback which serve as nothing less than road blocks on a long journey. It is the messages that balance the equation, and when they rise above the rest, brings the thoughts that our world needs, and our people have been waiting for. As the message that all religions are one, leading to one final destination, spreads, there is no longer the need for change of faith, for it is replaced by change of mind – there is no more conversion, but transformation of the soul. There are the good and evil in each religion, and then there is God who plays no part in the terrible acts of people who claim to be like the Almighty One, or as following his path. There was Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, and now there is this movie – divergent ways are surely back!

Release date: 7th July 2017
Running time: 168 minutes
Directed by: Jiyen Krishnakumar
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, Shine Tom Chacko, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Murali Gopy, Ananya, Padmapriya Janakiraman, Ravi Singh, John Kokken, Mridula Sathe, Rahul Madhav, Ranjeet, Amit Tiwari, Nakshatra Indrajith, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Paris Laxmi, Bhavika, Anand Attukal, Adesh S Nair

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Exodus

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Vampire Owl :: No, I have suffered too much with that earlier movie called Noah. No more!

Vampire Bat :: But, I would say that Noah has set such a terrible standard that it will be almost impossible for any other Biblical movie to come under it.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt that. The worst movie in any category is yet to come. There is always disaster in waiting. It is like a werewolf waiting for a full-moon when getting the release date.

Vampire Bat :: I see that your negativity about movies is increasing like your zombie minions’ doubts about your inability to owlify the world.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t understand why you doubt about categorizing Noah as the worst movie of the year. Along with bringing an aversion to Darren Aronofsky, I don’t see any other movie which put Christians, Athiests, Hindus and Muslims in the theatre to sleep with no discrimination. It has done India some favour with reflecting the unity in diversity, but in the end, it is just boredom for everyone, even for the categories with reservation.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, I did see the reaction in the theatre, but as you said, the worst movie list is still open.

Vampire Owl :: I think that you should close the yearly list right now. Now we know what movies to watch each weekend, and I don’t see any other movie coming close to as ridiculous as Noah.

Vampire Bat :: But we are not sure about it yet. There are some differing opinions…

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Exodus anymore. I am going to some place peaceful; like a cemetery, I guess.

Vampire Bat :: I think that it is a pretty good idea.

[Starts the car].

What is it about? :: Ancient Egypt had grown vast and wide beyond the banks of the river Nile, and was going through its best times, but mostly based on the blood and sweat of its Hebrew slaves. As much as the great Egyptian Empire spreads and developed, so much more pressure came on its slaves who continue to suffer more. Under the rule of the Pharaoh Seti I, the empire continues to thrive. There seems to be glorious days which goes on and on. Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) grow up like brothers in the palace even as it is certain the latter shall go on to become the Pharaoh. It is like they do have each other’s back until that realization come upon them one day. The truth that was hidden for long will come to light, and being considered a Hebrew spy won’t do Moses much good. He would soon be banished from his world, but that wouldn’t be the end of him, as God has plans for him and his people as he will liberate them from the yoke of slavery and lead them to the promised land. But what does the Pharaoh say about this?

The defence of Exodus: Gods and Kings :: It is our duty to support the big epic stories on the screen, and in that case, we have an automatic self-defence here. We need our faith, the beliefs of the past to keep us going, and I am sure that Exodus: Gods and Kings will only be a positive factor in the same unlike Noah which came up with so much negativity about the same. This is also a visually stunning movie, unlike any Biblical movie that has come so far, and the splendour and awesomeness of the Ancient Egypt is shown with full strength like never before. The cities, the statues and monuments, the troops, the Pyramids and the location near the Nile – they are all breath-taking. There is a good amount of detail put into all of that. The plagues are also nicely shown on the screen with the visual effectiveness, especially the river of blood and the thunderstorms. The cast also works nicely. There is an effort taken to add some imagination and more realism too, even as not all of it have worked. Still a spectacle is guaranteed on the screen, and God is clearly shown to be on the side of the poor and the powerless.

Claws of flaw :: The inaccuracies are there; yes, there are too many liberties being taken, especially with the portrayal of God (somehow reminding me of Waiting for Godot) and the way in which the plagues appear, rather like intending to connect them in one way or the other to various other factors. There are many moments which got the differences seeming easy to detect here, and the certainty is there about criticizing the same – but nothing really in a bad way (Noah had brought new “bad” or the “terrible”). I won’t list them here as I would continue this one as more secular than religious in nature. I am not an Old Testament expert anyway. The biggest problem after the God depiction is the Red Sea scene which had a lot more scope as a direct miracle with the special effects. The characterization is also incomplete; there is no real effort put into concentrating on Moses as a person, and that affects most of the other characters too – but they are not strangers to the audience, are they? The ending is also not where it should have stopped. The ending was to be after the sea-scene, and this one goes on to stop in the middle of nowhere. There was no point in rushing through things here either.

Performers of the soul :: You know that this is supposed to be depending heavily on Christian Bale who has to keep it going, and it does. He doesn’t fail to deliver yet again, and even when the characterization seems to bring things down, he continues to strengthen things. A special mention is needed for María Valverde who looked lovely and too good for her character, even though having a comparatively minor role which she did to perfection and remains memorable. Joel Edgerton does a commendable job the pharaoh, and he has his moments as much as the protagonist has, plus when they are together, there is even more power on the screen. Sigourney Weaver is limited here in another small role. The rest of the actors playing Hebrew characters pale in comparison to the power of Christian Bale’s Moses, even as Ben Kingsley does seem to have the opportunity to be the next most noticed person there, and Aaron Paul comes after that. But this movie is more Moses’ movie than Noah belongs to its titular character, and so we can understand the limitations of the rest of the cast, except for the antagonist.

How it finishes :: Coming from the disappointment of watching Noah, I wondered about the possibility of this being a good one, but I had more expectations about this movie. Noah had hit the bottom of the movie ocean with its terrible attempts to make something ridiculous out of the void of nonsense created by itself. Despite this movie being better, I do wonder why this couldn’t have been even better, coming from a director like Ridley Scott whose Prometheus had me incredibly interested like Alien and there is no need to talk about Gladiator which is there in almost every poster of this movie with the lines “from the director of Gladiator” becoming its biggest promotion. There was going to be believers and non-believers coming to watch this movie, and it had to use its epic elements to better use to make sure that both were nicely satisfied, and this one just makes the touch instead of grabbing and using its available elements. One has to admit that it is still with enough strength to survive though, and when it gets weak, we remember the pathetic and boring experience which was Noah, and we get happier. This time, the one whom I ask to accompany me won’t feel the need to shoot me on the head.

A look into the status :: Exodus: Gods and Kings releases in India a week before it does in the United States – well, you know that it is usually the other way around; with rare exceptions like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You know about the recent ones The Equalizer and John Wick coming late here too. Now that is a twist of events, and it is a good thing as it won’t collide with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies next week, followed by Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and then Into the Woods on the Christmas weekend, even as I am doubtful about the last movie’s fate here. Now you know the schedule for every weekend of December – these are the four movies which we have this month, and with one gone, there are three more to go, among which I hope that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will go on to become the second highest grosser of the year if not the first, as far as it doesn’t go The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 way and doesn’t make that much of an impact. For now, Exodus: Gods and Kings has fertile grounds in the theatre, with not much of a challenge, and hope it makes good use of this advantage.

Release date: 5th December 2014 (India); 12th December 2014 (USA)
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, María Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, Indira Varma, John Turturro, Hiam Abbass, Kevork Malikyan, Anton Alexander, Golshifteh Farahani, Tara Fitzgerald, Ben Mendelsohn, Dar Salim

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Hobbit II

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On The Hobbit :: In the first installment of a three-part film prequel series based on the 1937 novel The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien called An Unexpected Journey, we saw thirteen dwarves accompanied by one wizard and a hobbit, going on a mission to reclaim the dwarf lands which was earlier claimed by a fire-breathing dragon, Smaug. It was then that our hobbit had attained possession of a ring from Gollum which will make a difference in many ways later. The film had ended with a vision of the Lonely mountain with the dragon, and the creature opening its eyes. This movie has released almost exactly an year after the first movie released, and the third movie There and Back Again will be there on December 17th, 2014. It would have been even better if Guillermo del Toro was more involved with the movie, and it was his vision that was there, but even now, this movie is incredibly strong, and one would wonder if how different this would have been if he was in charge – may be something which was so different that one has to wonder so much? Who knows?

What is it about? :: After taking refuge from the orcs at the home of a skin-changer, the team of fifteen splits up as Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) who separates from them with a promise to meet them before they reach their destination. After fighting giant spiders, they are caught by the wood-elves from where the escape hidden in empty wine barrels. Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) invisibility ring helps in both cases. Meanwhile, Gandalf fights a legion of orcs as well as an entity known as the Necromancer. They are later helped by a human bowman Bard (Luke Evans) and later receives a great send-off when the talk about the riches come into play. But the orcs are after them, and so are two elves, Legolas and Tauriel who have more obvious reasons. With Gandalf missing, the fourteen are on their own in their battle against the dragon, and the questions remain about how they would get inside the mountain, how will they get the Arkenstone which is needed to rule, and how they will slay, defeat or at least survive from the dragon if they could. Another interesting question might be about who all will survive, with a dragon, an evil necromancer and lots of orcs involved.

The defence of The Hobbit II :: Talking about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, this is exactly what I had expected from this movie, and the movie has provided me with exactly what I was expecting. The fans of the book might disagree, but I haven’t read it and the whole movie remains a spectacle for me. The movie is an improvement from the previous one of the series, and it is a huge improvement as the action sequences and special effects are considered – may be I am a little prejudiced with this point as I watched the first movie on television in Sony Pix and this one in a multiplex in 3D, first day third show. But you can’t deny the strength of action sequences here, especially with the team’s barrel run chased by the orcs who are chased by the elves, and then when Legolas is involved. The dragon is also well-designed and it is an interesting character with its fire breath adding to the special effects more burning beauty. The spiders, the web and the forest remains another area which makes the whole thing interesting. One can actually take time to talk about almost every character out there, but I would rather not do the same.

Positives and Negatives :: We know the dragon is an impressive creature here, and so are all the creatures of different races, but there is one thing that doesn’t stand that good, it is the female elf Tauriel who seems to do nothing interesting other than create a bad love triangle. But we can still think that she never existed as the dwarf whom she healed was treated by other dwarves or humans. But the character is awesome in the action sequences, so may be she can be of interest in the next movie as long as the significance of that unnecessary love triangle will become less. As a character who is not in the book, I would think that she won’t be liked by the book fans. The movie is very long, but there is no dull moment in it, so just take that length negativity out of the equation. May be some people don’t like journeys like this, but obviously this was what one was supposed to expect, and the ending is quick, but better executed than The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and gives people more interest in going for the third movie which is surely going to be heavily packed with action. The 3D is fine and even excellent at times, nothing spectacular considering the overall quality of the movie, but I wasn’t looking for that in this movie.

Performers of the soul :: As the movie gets into action very early unlike The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which takes an eternity, our people are also prepared. Martin Freeman steals the show, and Ian McKellen comes as the big tree which holds things together. Richard Armitage’s dwarf king gets better, and Luke Evans’ presence is something which will be strong only by fulfilling his character’s destiny in the next movie if it is indeed the fate. Orlando Bloom is the ultimate action hero of the movie, and the number of claps he received in the theatre can’t be counted. The movie needed the character from Lord of the Rings, even as I hear people say that he is not The Hobbit character. He is more an archer magician right there making most of his screen presence. Despite Evangeline Lilly’s nice portrayal of her character, it is an avoidable she-elf – otherwise she is good and excellent in the action sequences. Well, elves are crowd favourites! Aidan Turner is equally detestable for that love triangle even as one has to like the way he has performed. Lee Pace makes a fine elf king, while the other dwarves work as good as they did in the first movie. Above all, love Benedict Cumberbatch’s fire-breathing red dragon, for that one rules.

Soul exploration :: The movie deals with the courage of a hobbit yet again, as despite his weaknesses and the lack of abilities, he joins the dwarf warriors, and continues his journey here. He is more heroic than he was in the first movie and even saves the dwarves from being eaten by giant spiders as well as being eternally imprisoned in the elf prisons – he even talks to the dragon face to face, and there is the courage that he has found, along with the ring. Meanwhile, Bard has to accomplish his destiny or rather fail in it, leaving a question mark for the final movie of the series. Elves, hobbits, dwarves, goblins, orcs, trolls and humans – they have all been in the series, and except for goblins and trolls, the rest make an impact in this movie too. The human neutrality is evident, and so is the orc alignment towards pure evil. The dwarves and hobbits remain more on the good side a little more than neutral, and the elves are good in their own way. But when we look at the ideals of the three – dwarves, elves and hobbits, they are different with variable views on each other, and if given a choice, I would think that most would chose the elves, and so would I. This racial difference is an incredible thing, and I have loved this variety in creatures since playing Age of Wonders.

How it finishes :: I would sincerly hope that all who are praising the special effects and CGI of some of the worst movies of the year, to watch this one (Krrish 3 fans can look at Dhoom 3 when it releases if waiting for an opponent of equal platform). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is one of the best movies of the year and also a visual treat which entertains with its witty dialogues, incredible action sequences and a flurry of special effects. It indeed makes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey feel that it could have been a better movie. Peter Jackson has indeed created the right hobbit movie which will surely make me choose Halflings as the race the next time I play Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic – something which I had given up in favour of the Draconians and the Undead. Meanwhile, I hope you all had a great Friday the 13th. It is the favourite day (and night) of the Vampire Bat, and on this occasion, he has decided to go lenient on his ratings, but The Hobbit II actually deserves it. Still, the one year wait for the third movie is going to be so depressing!

Release date: 13th December 2013
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.