Birds of Prey

Vampire Owl: There are not many kinds of vampire birds.

Vampire Bat: But not all of our birds hunt.

Vampire Owl: You stopped letting the birds hunt?

Vampire Bat: Well, the sky needed to be safer for the gargoyles.

Vampire Owl: You are calling for the gargoyles during a pandemic?

Vampire Bat: They are made of stone, and immune to any pandemic.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that these can’t catch the virus?

Vampire Bat: They are immune to the injection too.

Vampire Owl: That saves us some vaccines.

Vampire Bat: I would have loved to believe that the undead are basically immune, as the virus cannot affect the dead even after rising from the grave. But the research from Doctor Frankenstein says otherwise.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: A number of years have passed after the defeat of Enchantress in the hands of the team of supervillains, Suicide Squad, and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has broken up with Joker (Jared Leto), and despite going through the procedure many times, this time she believes that they are separated forever. She remembers her time as psychiatrist and also her time before that, as she tries to go on with her lonely life, and for the same, she also gets a hyena, but nobody really believes that she really broke up with Joker. She doesn’t really have any good friends, but everyone seems to know her for the association with Joker. To announce her break up to everyone, she blows up Ace Chemicals were she had her best time with Joker, and this time, she gets the attention of everyone. Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) is the first one to come after Harley for exploding Ace chemicals, and others who have held a grudge against her also follows. Ending the relationship with Joker does have its own negative effects for her.

So, what happens with the events here? :: A good number of people now wants her dead, or at least punished for what she had been doing. This includes not just the criminals and police, but also anyone on the streets whom she had offended – it includes a large number of people. Without Joker’s protection, she finds it difficult to move around safely. But she figures out that she will live her life her own way this time. The biggest mafia leader of the area is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), the crime lord who wishes to have full control over the Gotham City. Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) earlier worked as a singer in his club, but gets a promotion as his driver during important meetings, after he sees her fight on he streets. Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), the right hand man of Sionis losses a diamond which was supposed to be very important to him, and it turns out that it was taken by Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a young pickpocket who doesn’t hesitate to steal anything from anyone on the streets. The girl also swallows the diamond before being taken to the police station.

And what else is to follow with this strange series of incidents in Gotham City? :: At the same time, a vigilante known as The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) also appears on the streets, killing people all around the city, and nobody really knows what she is after. It does gives more of a head ache to Renee though, as she has been someone not able to get the credit even after working so hard in the police department. With murders happening with crossbows, and Harley also on the loose, Sionis wants the diamond back as soon as possible. For the same, he asks the help of every mercenary in the city, including Harley, who had also started calling herself a professional mercenary with her previous experience in Task Force X, the government funded group of criminals and supervillains. Harley breaks into the police station, and a number of mercenaries also follow her, but she manages to escape with the pickpocket kid, only to be continued to be hunted throughout the city. Dinah and Renee want to save the kid too, but time is running out.

The defence of Birds of Prey :: The film scores with its cast as expected, and while Margot Robbie has already proven herself as the crazy lover of Joker with a PhD in Psychiatry and experience with treating the craziest, Mary Elizabeth Winstead who is known more as the scream queen of horror flicks, has done fine work here – others are okay, even though I wouldn’t consider them to belong here as much as these two manages. The final fight scene scores high with the ambience being used there, and it is something which suits a horror movie more. There are also some humour added here and there, and for that too, the film is highly dependent on Margot Robbie, who seems to have got into that character so well again, and that makes one wonder what would have happened if Joker was also there. The fight sequences are nice, mostly when related to her, and even though left with less number of scenes, Mary Elizabeth Winstead also drops in nicely. The film is also full of colours, and they provide a special feeling to the movie.

The claws of flaw :: The absence of at least a cameo from Joker does have some effect on this film which could have used a little bit more of madness, as there seems to be a little bit too much sanity in here. Along with the same, the character of Rosie Perez seems to be weaker in comparison, and Ewan McGregor plays not that strong a villain as one would expect, with him being only a billionaire with a lot of henchmen – nothing more for him here. Some moments in the movie are also too silly, even when staying within the limits of silliness, and could have been avoided. The movie could have been shorter that way, and it should have stuck to Quinn to make that happen in a better manner. It is also a little bit too violent without reason, a quality which is not the best explored by a DC film. The film also leaves a question if it was trying to be a little bit of Charlie’s Angels by focusing on it as an action movie, but it is understandable, because Harley Quinn is that kind of a character, and only a little bit of the metahuman strength is unleashed here by anyone.

How it finishes :: DC Extended Universe always required more films which though differently, and this is surely one of them. There is a space being left behind after Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame nicely finished the biggest events of Marvel Extended Universe, and now it is up to DC to do the same and bring something grand, despite Justice League not doing that well as it should have managed, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice failing to gain appreciation. Unlike what was expected, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are the hopes of DC, and I would say that Suicide Squad was one too, even though many people were not really able to get their heads into it. Taking Harley Quinn out of it, and making this film will only help the next part of the second film on the squad when released, for Birds of Prey is a fun-filled entertainer which maintains the same feeling up to an extent, even though not beautifully poetic as that film happened to be. Once again, fun is guaranteed for sure.

Release date: 7th February 2020
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, Ewan McGregor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Doctor Sleep

What is the movie about? :: The terrifying events in the haunted Overlook Hotel which formed the movie The Shining has passed, but Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) hasn’t taken himself out of it completely. When he was a child and lived with his mother Wendy Torrance (Alex Essoe), he had the worst of the visions, but could manage to lock down the the spirits from the hotel in an imaginary space in his mind with the help of Dick Hallorann (Carl Lumbly), a benevolent spirit from the hotel which continued to help him, even after many years. As the hotel had closed down after the incidents, the ghosts, if let out, would try to feed on his psychic ability, his “shining”, as they are left with no other options. He is also warned that he should only keep his ghosts there, and not the memories. But this doesn’t go well for Danny with his life, as he gets to a new low with alcoholism, as it seemed to help him suppress his pysychic abilities, and he decides to escape from this lifestyle.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As he moves to a new town, a much smaller one, he finds a good friend in Billy Freeman (Cliff Curtis) who was also an aloholic, and sponsors him with a job and a place to stay in. He makes new friends in a group meant for the alcoholic survivors, and manages to begin as an entirely new person there. He becomes an attendant for the elderly, and becomes known as Doctor Sleep, as he helped the old people to die in comfort as they reached the end of their days, with his shining. He also begins receiving some messages through telepathic communication from Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), a young girl who seems to have a shining which might be more powerful than anyone ever lived during his time, as she reaches him from a long distance away. Her parents are afraid of her abilities, but manage to raise her as a usual child, due to her skills in hiding her shining in front of others outside, including school. Danny and Abra continues to make connection by telepathy.

And what else follows with the happenings? :: It is then that the True Knot, a group of psychic vampires led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who extend their lives towards immortality by the psychic power of young children, gets short of the much needed essence, and decide to go on hunting all around the nation. With the shining essence which serves as the steam for their existence facing a shortage, she and her partner Crow Daddy (Zahn McClarnon) adds the teenage psychic Snakebite Andi (Emily Alyn Lind) to her group, as she has an expertise in cheatign people, and because they can use their skills of manipulation. They turn her into a psychic vampire after feeding her the steam of Violet (Violet McGraw), a young girl whom they murdered, and had stored her essence for later use. While the group finds another boy with shining, and brutally murders him while feeding on his essence, Abra finds them, and she comes face to face with Rose, an act which sets the vampires on her trail. Danny feels the need to save her, but can he fight this centuries old cult of vampires?

The defence of Doctor Sleep :: There is balance being maintained in Doctor Sleep, as instead of getting into horror, which was the easiest step, the movie chooses to build each character really well. The case of the mind is nicely told, and we understand what each character is going through, and at the same time, we know their worlds really well. Unlike The Shining, the movie has different people and different world coming together, and we see the minds too, in an adventure which seems to be so well-designed to suit the taste of more than one kind of audience. That doesn’t take away the horror elements from Doctor Sleep, as they are present, and so are those thrilling moments. The different settings used by the movie, from the outskirts to the hotel with the spirits, are really good. The final fight scene of the movie is brilliantly worked out, and Rebecca Ferguson shows mastery out there as the psychic vampires rise above the blood-thirsty ones here.

Positives and negatives :: There was a challenging task ahead for the director here, to keep the movie close to the 2013 novel by Stephen King and the 1980 movie which deviated from the Stephen King novel – it was a difficult task, but it seems to have been done with some extra care. But the movie would have done better if it had followed the 2013 novel, because the younger audience who watch these movies more do not care that much about a 1980 version, and some others might have forgotten about the movie – if it had shortened its length and had stayed close to the 2013 novel version, there was chance for better success for this flick which didn’t come close to staying in the theatres as much as we wanted. The number of release centres which it had managed were also less, and it didn’t reach some towns at all. The movie might feel too long for some, but unlike some of other adaptations from novel which turn out to be too long, this one doesn’t drag.

Performers of the soul :: Ewan McGregor nicely makes the character a favourite, as we get to know the child from shining shown as the adult, and he fits in very well. Rebecca Ferguson plays the antagonist here, and this is one villain that you don’t need to miss, as he works this one towards perfection. When you are in a horror movie, there are antagonists which you imagine, but not this one, as she plays another character whom we get close to, someone who is not the usual evil prey. Most of the audience know her the best from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Mission: Impossible – Fallout; she was also there in the science fiction horror in space, Life. The Swedish actress would be someone perfectly suited for thrillers, whether action thrillers or horror thrillers, and we see her becoming the character in such a way that we can’t separate her from the antagonist. Kyliegh Curran as the girl with the most shining is solid, while Emily Alyn Lind adds a beautiful evil charm.

How it finishes :: It is not easy to come up with something like a perfect sequel after a long period of time, like thirty nine years after a movie releases. If you have watched It, you know that the sequel came in just a few years, and the second chapter never really came close to being as good as the first one. Pet Sematary, with its sequels and reboots have also just managed to be good enough. But Doctor Sleep, the sequel of The Shining has excelled in doing the job. It is indeed a shining sequel, and it might be the best, a movie can have as its sequel, especially a psychological horror film. Even Hannibal couldn’t get such a sequel, and we know where The Ring franchise went. The Conjuring had the best one as the first movie, and so did Insidious. Therefore, what Doctor Sleep has achieved with one of the best movies of the year is something that we need to appreciate. Here is one psychological thriller you shouldn’t miss even in the name of Corona virus.

Release date: 8th February 2019
Running time: 181 minutes
Directed by: Nicholas McCarthy
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, Emily Alyn Lind, Zahn McClarnon, Carl Lumbly, Jocelin Donahue, Bruce Greenwood, Robert Longstreet, Alex Essoe, Carel Struycken, Zackary Momoh, Jacob Tremblay, Henry Thomas, Bethany Anne Lind, Catherine Parker, Violet McGraw, Selena Anduze, Met Clarke

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jack the Giant Slayer

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Back in the childhood, there was a story which featured in a lot of books, a fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”. But the adventure had not met its end at that time; now, after the return of Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Hansel & Gretel to the new movie world, another fairy tale comes back to life in a different manner – our legend this time goes like this “Fee Fi Fo Fum, ask not whence the thunder come; For between heaven and earth it’s a perilous place, home to a fearsome giant race; Who hunger to conquer the mortals below, waiting for the seeds of revenge to grow”. The original one was “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, Be he live, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread”. The difference between the fairy tale and the movie doesn’t end there, for Jack is not someone who steals anything, but a hero and the defender of his realm. He never even takes anything to or from this world to the other. But he is still a boy from the farm and he kills some giants (two to be exact), just in defence though.

“Fie, foh, and fum, I smell the blood of a British man” would be the words of Edgar in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, but it might be better suited to the giants. Did those giants bother you in your childhood dreams and convert them into horrible nightmares? Where they your nightmare creatures? If they were, this is the time to redeem them. The giants haven’t really got their evil image running, as gentle giants tend to become more popular. But with giants, you never know and here it is proven; with gentle Jack and not-so-gentle giants who love to eat humans more than anything. Jack is just a simple farm boy; he is no Jack Sparrow and surely no Jack McClane. But what he does would change his life forever. From his fear of heights, or the fear of falling as he himself would call it, the man without any noble blood would rise to save the kingdom and the world of the humans from an invasion of the man-eating giants and also marry the beautiful princess to become the next ruler. If there is something like destiny, Jack has the best experience of it; if there is fate, it belongs to Jack; and as this fairy tale itself belongs to him as his own story, this is a fact which would be easily known.

Jack, the son of a farmer and Isabelle, the daughter of the king are shown to listen to the same bedtime story about giants and their invasion of human realm as the result of the creation of a gateway with magical beans in the form of a huge tree as part of an attempt of a few monks to reach heaven by the use of sorcery. The battle was clearly in the favour of giants an mankind could have faced extinction before a group of monks could create a crown which could let the wearer control the giants and force them to go back to their world. The connection was severed and everything went back to normal. Most of the people believed the story to be just a random legend, but both the kids believed in it. Ten years later, Jack has lost his parents and Isabelle is a wandering princess. The king’s right-hand man and adviser wishes to own that crown and re-link the two worlds unleashing an army of giants which he could control. His attempt to steal the remaining beans lead to a monk giving them to Jack before being captured and killed.

Meanwhile, the princess keeps wandering away in search of adventure and ends up in Jack’s house looking for shelter from the heavy rain. Their conversation is cut short as one of the beans get wet, it starts working and sprouts into a huge tree taking Jack’s house and the princess with it. Jack is thrown out of the house and is later found by the king and his soldiers. So our orphaned farm boy Jack has to set off on a quest to rescue a princess by climbing the huge tree to the middle world between the land of man and the land of God. But he would not be alone, as he is accompanied by the king’s best soldiers as well as the treacherous adviser who is looking for a chance to be in the world of giants and also the king’s most loyal leader of the royal knights. They would be in not just unfamiliar territory, but also a land infested by the world’s largest cannibals. An addition to this trouble would be the fact that the adviser has taken the crown with him to prepare the giants for the invasion of man’s world. The crown has its own power, as it is made out of the heart of a fallen giant of the former invasion.

The movie resembles Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters in many ways and it has a richer story, but too predictable and longer than need; it also has lesser 3D effects an weaker CGI compared to the witch-hunting action-horror fantasy. The horror element is als quite weak and there was the need for the darker elements in such a story. Instead this one is chosen to be watched by almost everyone, instead of giving it the power of horror and terror which it deserved. In the end, it continues to be a fairy tale with a happy ending; for they lived happily ever after and the tales of the giants continued to spread, creating new versions. Still, it scores over the lesser fairy tale re-builder which was Snow White and the Huntsman and is on level with Red Riding Hood in many ways. But then too, the effect created by the giants fails to grow like that seed; it could have reached the top with wings, but it decided to crawl underground and keeping itself safe. One has to wonder if the Twilight effect has completely destroyed the power of awesomeness in fantasy.

There is Nicholas Hoult, the Beast a.k.a Hank McCoy of X-Men: First Class who has blended into the character with no mutant-effect provided to the character, and Eleanor Tomlinson as the beautiful princess Isabelle never creating a question about a better cast; the same is the case of Stanley Tucci as Lord Roderick – the villain; not really the scariest one around, but still perfect for the way in which the movie has progressed. Ewan McGregor’s Elmont, the leader of the royal guard, makes that right character for a fairy tale adventure filled with action. As a whole, it is a perfect situation, but still the movie doesn’t rise as is should have; it is as if change was much less suited to this movie than the rest. But, with slight improvements, this could have made this genre, something spectacular, but such a thing was not to happen. The need to be on the safe side has locked this one – it has prevented the movie from going average or below average, but the same thing has prevented it from rising above the horizons from its own genre.

So this is where the Vampire Bat has started off for the month – one Jack, a princess and a large number of giants. The choices were many, especially among Malayalam and Hindi movies, but the decision to go for the classic fairy tale resurrection was not a bad idea. It has delivered; not completely in the way the Vampire Bat had expected it to, but surely in a way which didn’t disappoint him at all. He could just escape into it from a world which had much less for him. The vampire bats getting eaten by giants with bad teeth and foul breath might not make such great news, but still it would be an honour for him. The expectations are still there, if not for giants, it should be for awesome movies; and there is no rest for the Vampire Bat, nothing this world is aware of. There is still the need to be there for the right movie, something as good as Celluloid; that would make this a significant year if such an experience would happen in the first half of the year.

Release date: 1st March 2013
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.