Pretham 2

What is the movie about? :: Famous mentalist John Don Bosco (Jayasurya) is spending his time in peace at Varikkasseri Mana a.k.a. Varikkumanchery Mana, one of the traditional Brahmin houses located at Manissery, a village in Ottapalam, Palakkad. Situated in an area of natural beauty in a plot of about four acres, John feels that there is something strange and mysterious about the place. With a history of popular movies being shot there including Devasuram, Aaraam Thampuran, Raappakal, Drona, Simhasanam, Sufi Paranja Katha, Thooval Kottaram, Valliettan and Manthrikan, a group of youngsters decide to come there to shoot a short-film. They are from a Facebook group known as “Cinema Pranthanmar”, which is known to be a perfect place for movie lovers from all around Kerala. This particular adventure could feed the movie lover in them more than anything else.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The team is lead by Tapas (Amith Chakkalakal) who comes up with this idea of having a short film. He plans to create this film, and run a premiere after inviting all the members of the group which goes into thousands. Joining him are those members whom he had never met, and used the group with their fake names; the first one to join him is the man known in the group by his fake id Mangalassery Neelakandan, Ramanandan (Sidhartha Siva) who is into hotel business in the Middle East and is a big Mohanlal fan. They are joined by Karuthamma, originally Anu (Durga Krishna) who is a nurse and Shahrukh Khan, originally Niranjana (Saniya Iyappan) who is a professional dancer. The last person to join them in Joffin (Dain Davis) who has run away from home due to personal problems with his father.

So, how does the ghost come into picture this time? :: The problem at the resort of Denny Kokken (Aju Varghese), Priyalal (Sharafudheen), Shibu Majeed (Govind Padmasoorya) and Yeshu (Dharmajan Bolgatty) was one which haunted John for a long time, and here, with the youngsters making the short-film, more trouble arrives, and the supernatural only gets stronger. The youngsters are attacked by some strange forces and nobody seems to know what is happening. Their first guess is that it is the spirit of the person who owned and lived in the mansion, but it turns out that there is more than what meets eye at the first place. There is a connection which is making the spirit act there, and John has to begin with it and reach the end soon, before it is too late and someone gets into serious trouble. But it is not that easy, as the clues are less, and the answer to their questions are somewhere else.

The defence of Pretham 2 :: Pretham 2 is indeed a better movie than its predecessor which had too many terrible jokes, even though the final moments were nice for that one too. Pretham 2 has the advantage in almost every field including its setting and cast. The idea is also smarter here with the social media, internet, fake identity and online frauds at the centre. The messages about the possible dangers of being friends with fake ids and trusting strangers without names are all shown in this particular flick. The mystery is nicely solved here, and there is no exaggeration here with the elements of the other world – the first image of the spirit that we see is in the form of a shadow, and the creature from the other world doesn’t overdo things as the happenings would be in a usual horror movie. The thrills are strong, and there are also some nice jokes – we are left guessing with the suspense factor being very high till the end.

The claws of flaw :: Pretham 2 never really rises above most of the problems of its predecessor, as it follows too similar a path, and the spirit also follows the same pattern, as we see no attempt to deviate much. We would wonder if so many spirits are looking forward to have the mystery behind their deaths investigated. There seems to be no other plan for the people on the other side. Some jokes are just repetitive, especially the talks regarding those old Mohanlal movies. The movie could have also used more scares, as the film itself is marketed as a horror flick, and the name itself suggests the same. The movie could have surely used darkness better, and the ghostly presence itself could have done more, at least when the youngsters were alone. Pretham 2 doesn’t try to frighten people much, and that is not acceptable at a time when Hollywood is running movies like The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Insidious, Sinister and others.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is back with an avatar to remember, unlike Punyalan Agarbattis 2 and Aadu 2 which struggled to live up to its predecessors with all its characters. His mentalist is a rock solid character, and this time, he is better than last time too. Saniya Iyappan, with her flexible dance moves, is a joy to watch here, and has a clear improvement in acting from her previous movie Queen, which was one of the worst collection of elements deserving not to be called a movie at all. She can certainly bring variety to the Malayalam cinema, as her skills are yet to be used in the best possible ways. Durga Krishna after Vimaanam, gets one nice role to perform, and she does that well. Dain Davis and Sidhartha Siva gets to bring the elements of fun well, even though the latter gets too much of Mohanlal dialogues from those old movies, which become too repetitive. Amith Chakalakkal is very good with his character which is rather solid.

How it finishes :: Pretham 2 holds the advantage over Thattumpurath Achuthan, Ente Ummante Peru and Odiyan for this Christmas, and by being a smart horror-mystery-comedy-thriller, it is many things in one movie. With Jayasurya at the centre as one character who has a certain iconic status, and the new faces like Saniya Iyappan who has become another name for dance, Durga Krishna in her second movie, the crowd favourite Dain Davis and others, Pretham 2 makes the Pretham franchise much better than what it was in the first movie. It also leaves a few messages about the problems due to uncontrolled use of social media by teenagers, the dangers that lie behind the fake ids in Facebook, possibilities of different kinds of frauds by online groups looking for easy money etc among others. Pretham 2 makes Christmas a lot of fun, and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas. Enjoy the holidays!

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Saniya Iyappan, Durga Krishna, Dain Davis, Amith Chakalakkal, Sidhartha Siva, Sreejith Ravi, Jayaraj Warrier, Aju Varghese (cameo), Sharafudheen (cameo), Govind Padmasoorya (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Runner Runner

runnerrunner (6)

✠ This was a week blessed by no releases which came out with a good critical reception, and the after-effects of that movie Besharam was haunting me. It re-iterated the need for a good movie, and I had high expectations about this flick, but those waxen wings were burnt yet again, and therefore it is necessary that Count Dracula take over half of those expectations. This has been a bad beginning to a month which starts with Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday right on the second day, and considering the fact that I had to watch Besharam on that day was sad, and as I add this movie’s score to, the total should be 57/200 which is undoubtedly the worst beginning I ever had to a month this year. With that sadness concerning a month which might not rise in quality much if an average is taken, I have to take you back to the legendary vampire.

Count Dracula: So you are back. You had Jumper, Sinister, Offender, Parker, Looper and now Runner; that too twice. The names of the movies are indeed strange. Among those movies ending with -er I would have preferred those less complicated ones like Hellraiser, Dreamcatcher, Outlander and the inverted version ending with -re, possibly with the word “vampire”.

Vampire Bat: I can see that the absence of Twilight movies are bringing you back into this world. Yes, the title is Runner Runner, and it is good that they had chosen such a title, as the movie drags a lot in between and it is a good thing that people get to know that it is running.

Count Dracula: Do you mean to see that a movie which was so much awaited, a flick which has Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton is quite bad and doesn’t deserve to be watched?

Vampire Bat: That would be pure nonsense. I am surely recommending this one, even as not that much as most of those other movies of the earlier weeks; and this movie might be the winner of this week which was plagued by Besharam and is not supported by any superstar movies from Malayalam industry. Runner Runner might not win by a big margin considering the number of people who were present in the theatre even during the best time of a semi-holiday, but if there is a movie which needs some appreciation among those released this week, it is this movie. The critics might have panned it a little too much in my opinion, for this is no Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance.

Count Dracula: Why did you have to remind me of that movie? Wasn’t the reminder about Twilight and Besharam enough for the day. You always ruin my day like those wood elves. I need to eat a hobbit, but that would take some time too.

Vampire Bat: That should be mainly because I am not here to make you listen to what you want to hear. But let me tell you that this movie scores with its cast. Its greatest advantage remains Justin Timberlake. He was good in Bad Teacher, and I loved his performances in Friends With Benefits and In Time. Here also, he is really good, but his character is let down by the story which goes on through the predictable lines and even as they seem to promise for some surprises at times, there is nothing risky in a gambling movie, and when they don’t dare to do that in a movie which is all about taking risk and gambling, that is a real shame.

Count Dracula: It doesn’t make any sense that you have not started talking about Gemma Arterton. What about her? Her presence in Byzantium makes me wish to go back to the civilized world again. I had heard that they didn’t release that movie in your land. They should be really evil, as it is one of the best things which has happened to the vampire world since my last bloodbath.

Vampire Bat: Yes, she has been an unavoidable force for me from the days of Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and finally Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters this year. But I didn’t like her that much in this movie as I expected. She was pretty and did all that she was supposed to do, but one has to wonder what purpose has her character really served in the movie by coming out of nowhere at regular intervals. Yes, she makes me ask for sequels to both Prince of Persia and Hansel and Gretel, but not for this one.

Count Dracula: You don’t need to say that Ben Affleck was good, as I have known that already. I am not predicting what you saw in the theatre, or what was to happen, but I am pretty much confident about that. I am not sceptical about his upcoming role as Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel either, as most of the people are. He has been Daredevil and he can be Batman. Matt Murdock can be Bruce Wayne, and not every Batman needs to be the same.

Vampire Bat: You are very good at taking words out of the mouth of others, and this is no exception. Yes, the three people forms the pillars of the movie, and the two male characters run the show. Gemma’s character could have had a lot more to do, but I guess we can’t have a Gretel or Tamina every time. Still, there is no denying that the scope for such a character in a movie like this is almost limitless.

Count Dracula: I am not a gambler, my friend. Neither am I a gangster. So, my interest in such a movie is limited. I am rather a vampire who often forgets to brush my teeth and visit a dentist. How did the gambling side work out with you? And does it have enough blood?

Vampire Bat: No, it is far behind in action, and therefore also the blood. Its adult certificate is for the sexual content which is censored at this part of the world, and the near absence of clothes is more of fashion, and I didn’t see those people who came to watch the movie with families leaving, and therefore the lingerie stuff should be okay with them. I would wonder if the gambling side worked at most of the theatres in this part of the world though, as most of us are not aware of the thing properly. But did Justin Timberlake’s character narrate between action to make it known better? I don’t think so.

Count Dracula: So tell me how does it end? Don’t throw the spoiler at me, but still let me know about it. I shall buy only the DVD of that movie, and I have to know the whole thing a little better.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is about a student who loses all his money to an online gambling game, and after coming to know that he was cheated, goes to Costa Rica to find the owner of the site and confront him only to taken to his side. He is romantically linked to the former lady love of the man and is bothered by the FBI to assist them in finding proof for taking the lord of gambling into custody. There are enough suspicions and double-crossing stuff to deal with, and the climax is pretty good.

Count Dracula: So, Runner Runner is worth a watch, and I surely have to get that DVD. I shall look for it the next time I go to the goblin market. If I can’t find it there, it shall be upon you to get that to me.

Vampire Bat: I shall still recommend this one if you are going for a movie this weekend. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now. May the shadows be with you.

Vampire Bat (to himself): I am fully in support of this movie in the form of a DVD, as an uncut version, and if you also live in such a part of the world where the options are the same as mine, go for this movie in the theatre. The beauty of Costa Rica and the three leading actors might be enough to make your day as this is a shameless week for us as far as movies are considered.

✠ For a Malayalam movie fan, this flick brings back the memories of Jose Praksh’s “muthala kunjungal”, for our dear antagonist has crocodiles as pets and feeds them very well, and there is a scene involving him almost feeding his opponents to the creatures in water. Well, this movie doesn’t go to crocodiles of Lake Placid, nor does it goes to the dinosaur of Jurassic Park. With a better plot and a better characterization of Gemma’s character, the three could have done wonders here. Do keep the ears ready for some good lines in the movie, and be prepared for half a fun ride which might be enough for some and not at all working for others. The movie is that much of a gamble that you have to take as it happens inside, and there is a big chance that this will come up okay, and a slight chance that this won’t work at all – there is much lesser chance of this impressing you to the core. Next time, I hope that when they make a thriller, there would me more risks taken and big twists explored, rather than going in a straight path as if it is a drama movie. It is a short movie, both in content and in running time, and may be it is for the good.

Release date: 4th October 2013
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Brad Furman
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, Anthony Mackie, David Costabile, Sam Palladio, Oliver Cooper, Ben Schwartz

runnerrunne copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.