Rogue One

Vampire Owl: The title of this movie has already made me think about Rogue Two.

Vampire Bat: It is the problem due to thinking too much about sequels. I don’t think that there will be another Rogue, as this is supposed to be a spin-off standing alone.

Vampire Owl: Some movies have too many sequels anyway. I can’t even remember when I first heard about Star Wars. Maybe we should see the rings and live only for seven days, so that the memory works better.

Vampire Bat: It is something that goes beyond centuries for humans, so I have heard.

Vampire Owl: But it hasn’t been that much known throughout the world, I wonder why.

Vampire Bat: Well, even Star Trek became popular only in the last few years – before that they had copied the same to make Captain Vyom.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I remember that it had such an uncomfortable timing that I ended up missing the food provided for many wedding, betrothal and house warming functions for watching it.

Vampire Bat: But, during those times, we never knew the original.

Vampire Owl: Star Wars was more popular than Star Trek during those days.

Vampire Bat: Now, there is the twist – everyone we love around here loves Star Trek more.

[Gets three cups of breakfast tea with a piece of orange cake].

What is the movie about? :: Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), an expert in weapons research is hiding on a planet, away from the dictatorship called Empire and its sinister motives which include but are not limited to enslavement of people. Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), who is in charge of the weapons research for the Imperial Military Force finds him and forces him to build a superweapon called the Death Star, which is capable of destroying planets from a long distance away, thus giving supreme power to the Empire. While his daughter is saved by the wanted rebel and an extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), his wife is killed by the Empire in the conflict. Galen is left with no other way, and is forced to go with Orson to provide his expertise, while Saw and his forces continue to resist the Empire which only grows stronger and stronger with time, while the rebels focused on newer methods to take down the Empire.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Years later, a cargo pilot of the Empire, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) turns to the side of the rebels, as he brings a message from Galen to Saw, and he is captured by the extremist rebels. Meanwhile, Jyn Esro (Felicity Jones) who is a prisoner of the Empire, gets rescued by a rebel officer, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who takes her to the rest of the rebels, and there, they convince her to find more about her father and the Death Star so that they can make good use of the information; their true intention is to kill him though. They will be joined by a re-programmed droid from the Empire, a blind but skilled warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his fighter friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) who would have more than what they could handle on a normal day. Can they figure out Galen’s message, find him and stop the Death Star before it begins destroying the rebel bases, or even the planets on which they stand? Is there hope against the Empire which stands so strong?

The defence of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story :: Despite it not becoming that much of a popular thing here, this movie continues in the path set by its predecessors in the franchise, and does the same thing again, and provides the entertainment beyond the known world. Well, Star Wars is something that doesn’t age, and can go on to make more and more sequels, and shall continue to become success for many years to come. The message about rebellion continues, as the dictatorship also continues to do what it has been doing. The nostalgic feeling should work for those who had grown up watching Star Wars – those VCR and VCP days had more than one cassette of this franchise, with the first Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; these used to be the special movies which looked too good, but not many people had watched them. The visuals and the special effects are too good, and you are going to love the final battle scene for sure, with all the splendour. Well, a stand-alone spin-off Star Wars movie is good to keep you strong while waiting for the next flick.

The claws of flaw :: The lack of popularity of Star Wars around here has hurt the possibilities with a lot of people no aware of how this series is progressing; about where it all began, where everything is going, and who all are these people, you wonder – well, not many people who have watched those earlier Star Wars movies are there to watch the newer flicks in the theatres, you know, and a stand-alone spin-off will only confuse them. Well, if people are confused about this, you can’t blame them, and they can only enjoy parts of this one in that case. Also, the one point to note is that there is not much of a change or variety in proceedings in this movie, as this becomes more Star Wars, rather than bringing a new special element. Star Wars: Force Awakens was certainly a better movie than this, and it seemed to try to be something by itself unlike this one which goes on and on with its usual stuff. Also, its attempt to work on the nostalgia that we have for this movie works not that much with the audience here. The emotional side is rather weak.

Soul exploration :: Well, Star Wars has always been about the rebellion against the dictatorship, as we had felt a long time ago. But during those times, the need was not this strong, and with a lot of things forced on us for no meaningful reason, one has to wonder if we are all the rebels against that part of the society which steals our individuality from us, for which new rules are made; when rules are not really made for people, and it is just for a certain group of people, we wonder if this situation in Star Wars is not so different from what we have now. There is so much hate in the world that hope seems too far away, as far as the stars are. Star Wars also has the message of hope, and battling against all odds. But how strong is everyman against the troops which are controlled by fascism which threatens to destroy not just worlds, but also the idea from the minds of the people? Star Wars movies keep bringing that hope in one way or the other, against the mighty Empire which would call for fake patriotism and not rebellion, but revolution happens in one way or the other.

How it finishes :: As it is clear for many people, people in India are not really much of fans for the Star Wars franchise, even though I remember having watched the series, and becoming interested in the same – I was among a few people who did, for Star Wars surely had no takers in the schools, tuition classes or even among the cousins. The presence of some of the Star Wars games was what helped me further to keep the interest alive, and while those earlier games had the Jedi Knight hero, there was also Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds which provided the feeling of playing Age of Empires II: Age of Kings again. Even though it keeps making so much money in the United States, and maybe also in Europe as well as other English-speaking nations, it would have to try hard to make it work better in India for better collections – but you never get bored of watching a Star Wars movie as far as I am concerned, and I have enjoyed watching this one too. We await the real sequel of Star Wars: Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi releases with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega after this one from the director of Godzilla. So, may the force be with you.

Release date: 16th December 2016
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Jimmy Smits, Genevieve O’Reilly, Anthony Daniels

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Commando

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Today, something exceeded the expectations of the Vampire Bat. No, it was not that line of expectations built with continuous gunfire by the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the same name, nor was it that thinner line of thread woven by that arachnid of my favourite computer games of those “twenty four hour gaming” days – Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty. With undeserving apologies to all those who misunderstood, this is a Hindi movie, product of Bollywood with a difference. Coming back to that arachnid about which I was talking about, this one belongs to its genre, even as this is no game to be controlled by the audience, but it is still one in its essence. It is surely one of the best action movies – I would rather leave a little doubt about saying it though, as this is not the kind of comparable action movie, for it has brought variety with it which makes it different. No, it doesn’t make it a pariah to the action-adventure-thriller group of genre. It is the same, but it has actually held on to what it is, unlike most of the Bollywood movies which strays away from the core or concentrate on too much shooting or slow motion melee combats which are more intolerable than all the over hyped movies like Agneepath and Krissh which went on to become super hits only on fans – but our movie is a silent killer, and the film itself is a commando as well as a hit-man.

As we move out of the nonsense which was Krissh and the void which was Agneepath, this movie takes over. In a world where movies can sell the nonsense of nothingness in a void with one celebrity, this movie is a boon and a redeemer. But it is still not the right product for your imagination on perfection. First of all, it doesn’t have a powerful story line to boast about. It starts off, goes on and ends with no surprises – it surely has no rocket fuel in it. There are also so many elements which can be compared to Tango Charlie (the least similarity), Koyla, Agneepath and Bodyguard. The story moves along predictable lines, and the element of suspense is missing even in the most thrilling moments. The story of Captain Karanvir (Vidyut Jamwal), a commando begins with him in Chinese captivity. As the Chinese government tries to take advantage of the situation, and brands him as an Indian spy, the Indian Government feels the pressure and chooses to simply deny his existence, despite of the fact that he has proved on multiple occasions as a valuable asset to the military forces, and in spite of his superior officer’s strong comments against it.

He escapes from China and on his way back, at the Himachal – Punjab border, he meets and saves a girl, Simrit (Pooja Chopra) who is escaping from gundas. Amrit Kanwal Singh (Jaideep Ahlawat) is the master and the owner of all illegal activities of the village, and it is from his wish to marry Simrit that all the trouble for the girl starts with her running away from home with the support of her helpless parents and relatives. Karanvir is forced by Simrit to accompany her in the bus to which he reluctantly agrees. But, the bus come up against a roadblock and finding himself outnumbered and nowhere to escape, he surprises and kicks the villain and jumps off the bridge with Simrit into a river, finally ending up in a forest. But finding himself embarrased by the former commando, Amrit Kanwal Singh decides to pursue them and make an example out of Karanvir so that he can keep the fear in the minds of the villagers going, as his failure would raise questions from the oppressed, and might lead to a challenge to his supremacy which he doesn’t want. There begins the high-voltage chase with a few moments of romantic touch. There, the numbers game of the cruel and brutal villain will meet the commando tactics of the trained hero, and it is a situation where there could be only one winner.

The movie belongs to Vidyut Jamwal, and there is no surprise in it. It was much expected with his first movie as the leading actor and with him placed in his familiar territory of powerful action and adventure. His roles in Thuppaki and Billa II as well as Force might have been incredibly negative, but here, he his a virtuous, patriotic commando of “rough and tough” chivalry. He has transformed from the powerful evil antagonist to the popular lead protagonist in this movie. That brings to us our new action star, already hailed as the next action hero. It does make one curious about what his role would be, in the upcoming action flick, Bullett Raja. This can’t help taking one back to Force, that 2011 Bollywood action movie directed by Nishikanth Kamath and starring John Abraham with Genelia D’Souza in the lead roles. As Vidyut Jamwal played the dreaded gangster, he was a force to reckon with, and his fight with John Abraham was the highlight of the movie. The confrontation between the two left the audience with a clue of what to expect from this rising star, whether they liked the movie or not. A movie with him and John Abraham on the same side would be a treat to watch, even as the verdict on this movie itself is currently on the balance with the side of success weighing much more.

The advertisement said that it is from the makers of Force and Singham, and we would never cease to see a few things of the former in this movie. Taking the “Khwabon Khwabon” song of teh John Abraham starrer itself, the background of that song would seem to be similar to that of the first romantic song of this one too, as only the audible side differs as well as the pairs. The other major difference would be that the hero of this movie had separated the other pair by murdering the lady in the other movie – so much for comparisons! But when you see a poster of Force, and later Vidyut Jamwal throwing a gunda through it and coming out through it, there is that feeling that we have another John Abraham in him. It wouldn’t be strange if one feels that the looks of John Abraham in that movie was also suited to the role of a commando. Coming back to Vidyut Jamwal, he conquers the audience more by the action sequences than anything else – to add to it, there are the one-liners, a few of them. To be frank, this was never a role which he couldn’t handle, as this commando is of best quality, and even if questions are asked and criticized, there is not much to take away from this man as an action hero of the highest quality.

From our skilled action hero, the scene has to shift, and we see that Pooja Chopra has a dream debut, playing a character of mighty significance, even if being the damsel in distress is the first thing to be noticed about her. Technically, it might not be her debut either, but on the intellectual ground of thoughts, it should be. Considering this as an action movie, the songs and the romantic side are of lesser concern, and might even damage the pace, but her character doesn’t really have that strong a romantic side, as she faces adversity and tragedy – but there is the presence of lighter moments. As the lady who never gives up, not when she is haunted by a villain and his minions, and not even when all hopes seems to have lost with the commando thrown down the cliffs, she hold on to the hopes, for the one “Karan”, like the mother hopes for Karan and Arjun in that movie which shall not be named right now. She is brave enough, but not George Bernard Shaw’s Joan, and also is the romantic one, but not William Shakespeare’s Juliet – but this is as much as needed in an action movie as long as the romance factor is concerned; in the charm, beauty and the innate cheerfulness, she conquers the hearts of the audience, and for a newcomer, and for non-action heroine in an action movie, she has done more than just enough.

Jaideep Ahlawat’s villain is as close to pure evil as possible for a weak man who always needs his minions all around him to support him and save him from a possible attack – more of the damned causing distress rather than our beautiful, gorgeous damsel in distress. His white eye balls which resemble the moon-blinked eyes of the Owls of Ga’Hoole seem to reflect his soul’s emptiness, its darkness eclipsing the outer eyes. He is a deadly force – more psychotic than anything else, matched only by the power of his nemesis. The beauty of nature, the sun rising, the beams of the sun getting into the forest, the river with the green background and the white mountains at a distance, they all create a feeling of beautiful mystery – where the commando is the predator for the villain’s team, for this time, the roles are reversed. For such an action hero, this reversal is a boon. The movie is recommended for being faithful to its genre in a remarkable manner, and for the people who search for the story lines of extreme depth and strong innovation, there will be other movies – for the ones searching for a heavy does of emotions which make them rain tears, there will be many more. For now, there is our own risk taking, gravity defying, rock solid commando who is in a familiar territory.

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Release date: 13th April 2013
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Dilip Ghosh
Starring: Vidyut Jamwal, Pooja Chopra, Jaideep Ahlawat, Jagat Rawat, Ishita Vyas
@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.