John Wick 3

What is the movie about? :: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) had murdered Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) at The Continental Hotel, violating the rule that there would be no blood on its grounds. Winston (Ian McShane), the owner and manager of the hotel had delayed announcing the resulting excommunication and global bounty by an hour to give him a head start. Now being an excommunicado, John is on the run, and is confronted by lesser assassins even before his time started. With a fourteen million bounty on his head, and on the run from assassins, he manages to gain a safe passage to Casablanca in Morocco by claiming a favour from a lady known as the Director (Anjelica Huston). There he meets Sofia (Halle Berry) who owes him a favour and asks her to lead him to the Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui), a high ranked member of the high table who could take the bounty off his head.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is during the same time that an adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) from the high table meets with Winston, who is asked to give up his office in seven days. Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), the leader of a network of vagrant assassins is also asked to give up his position. There would be serious consequences if both were to disagree. An assassin known as Zero (Mark Dacascos) is recruited by her for the mission. He, along with his assassin team members, take on the helpers of John Wick. At the same time, John does come up with a deal, but there is more to be done, and there are so many assassins after him. He would wish to stop this and live in the memories of his wife, but that wouldn’t be possible that easily. Winston and Bowery King wishes to keep their part too, but that will be quite difficult too.

The defence of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum :: We have watched the previous two chapters, and one can safely say that the franchise has had a clear improvement, with the second chapter being better than the first, and this third chapter rising above the predecessors. The improvements come in different fields – one is the action, which is surely better, and each sequence and each kill seems to have something in it. There are some interesting sequences in the beginning itself, and in the end, we have another grand one. The ending also assures us of another sequel, and more blood bath. The visuals are also part of the improvement, as what we see on the screen, with the shots from the distance, or even inside the fighting places are all really good. The humour also sees a certain improvement, and a few are there when least expected. Most of us have played the game Hitman, on the silent assassin, and John Wick goes loud, like Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit.

The claws of flaw :: The phrase “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, means “If you want peace, prepare for war”, and “parabellum” in the movie name calls for war, which brings a lots of blood and gore which may not be acceptable for everyone – its actually a lot more than the previous movie, but as we won’t have the original uncut version here, that won’t be a problem for our audience here. One would also wonder why the movie decided not to have a better storyline behind all the big action. While Keanu Reeves is too good here, we miss Ruby Rose with that intensity in the last movie – Asia Kate Dillon never comes up with any action, and Halle Berry is wasted in a small role looking the same all the time. More of Laurence Fishburne would have also been appreciated. Everything also comes together in a way that makes a number of incidents in the movie not worthy, and some replacements could have made it feel better.

How it finishes :: John Wick 3 undoubtedly brings the best full action movie in a long time, maybe the most significant one after Mission Impossible: Fallout. Well, there are many other genres which those usual action movies could fit in, but this one is perfectly suited for exactly one category. But one thing that will surprise the movie fans is related to this flick’s availability in the theatres. As of now, it seems to be available in only one multiplex in Cochin, which is PVR Cinemas in Lulu Mall. The closest place where one can find the same is many kilometres away, in the next district, at INOX in Sobha City Mall, Thrissur. With Avengers: Endgame reigning and breaking all records, there might be no place for another English movie, but with John Wick shows running full, there has to be more, and it is one thing which the assassin deserves. At least it should stay for more.

Release date: 17th May 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Ian McShane

*Below is a short review on another movie which I watched during this weekend – Ishq.

[Short Review: Ishq (2019: Malayalam) – The movie talks about two lovers who are harassed by moral policing locals. It has some fine performances from whole of its cast, and the idea is definitely a good one, with a reflection of certain incidents which have happened in the past. The Shine and Shane combination works like a dream. There is also one beautiful song and the first few moments are nicely done until they get repetitive, and the ending is nice. But with its story and the execution as a whole, the movie struggles. There is also the lack of some good characterization, and wastes its female characters except for the moments in the beginning and the end. The characters act in strange ways as in a brainless slasher movie, leaving the realistic side a long way behind. A journey from a road thriller to home invasion, from “In Fear” to “Funny Games” can always be better.

If there were messages intended, then also the movie gives the wrong ones, as reflected in the response of the audience – they are clapping to those mass scenes which go against the spirit of the movie itself, and in the end, except for the people online, especially on Facebook, others are not seen as giving the highly positive opinions. Giving a tagline which nobody really cares to read is also not an excuse to not living up to what the title says. The movie seems to be something created out of anger rather than with a mission, and to work with the common audience, we need the latter – the intellect has advantage over instinct, and it is something to be kept in mind when dealing with an issue like this one. This was a movie which had a great chance at being something brilliant, but fails to be there, as it embraces mediocrity.]

Also refer to similar movies like Varathan and Uncle which were better.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Days of Future Past

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The X-Men Legend :: The legend of X-Men starts in the theatre with the 2000 movie X-Men, made better by X2: X-Men United later, and undoubtedly ruined by X-Men Last Stand with whatever they managed to do with just one mutant character, Jean Grey. That was supposed to be the ending of X-Men watching for me, and there the director had changed, but the one who director the first two X-Men movies are now back with X-Men: Days of the Future Past. X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class were really good and the latter was rather an impressive flashback to the origin of the first mutants with a nice background of the Cold War, while The Wolverine was a little bit of let down even as it can still be considered okay enough under most of the circumstances. With this franchise from Marvel, we get a movie which has been around with more than nine out of ten rating in imdb and ninety four percent critical rating in rotten tomatoes, something which not many superhero movies could achieve. So this was indeed a movie not to be missed, and a even my delay of one day was depressing for me.

What is it about? :: The story goes quite some way into the future, as there are non-metallic robots which are hunting the mutants as a result of years of human research to find a solution to the mutant existence. At the same time, the robots have also managed to go beyond its instructions oppressing the humans as they are the source of mutants coming into existence later. As Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to project a person’s consciousness back to the past and warn others, a group of mutants surivive, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Blink (Fan Bingbing), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Bishop (Omar Sy) and Kitty herself. As they are pretty sure that they will be caught soon, they decide to use Kitty’s ability to send Wolverine back to 1973 to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from murdering Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) who invents the robot assassins whose idea and a captured Mystique’s DNA will be used to create the killing machines in the future as the dead man becomes a sort of martyr. So, can Wolverine do well enough?

The defence of X-Men: Days of the Future Past :: The beauty of this movie is how it has managed to work on its story with its powerful connection to the other X-Men movies, and as this is set in the future, this has a little bit to relate to every other movie of the franchise, especially X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Last Stand and X-Men: First Class. The whole thing is nicely managed here without causing any disruption to all that have already been established in those previous movies. Even with the lesser amount of action sequences, they have done what all were there very nicely, with the robots fighting the mutants, a battle which could have used a little more smartness, but they are visual treats even if one-sided for the most part. The presence of the character Quicksilver is a boost too even when limited to one fight. The movie gets on with its world quite fast too, making sure that the boredom that can cause by explaining about the characters is not there, and if there is the need to know more, the viewers can watch the other X-Men movies. Now, with the time space continuum altered, may be some of the incidents of the movie never happened or might not happen, may be that can give scope for a difference sequence of events in upcoming X-Men movies.

The claws of flaw :: The 3D makes an attempt to prove itself unnecessary as the movie progresses; the positive side was only in the beginning with the credits. The movie also drags in the middle, with a lot of dialogues rather wasted. The thrills that is supposed to be there from the beginning works at a weaker level through the movie, as there is not enough action in between to support it. Except for the action in the beginning and the end related to the robots where the mutants lose in all cases, there is no real impressive battle except for a little Magneto trick and Quicksilver show. The special effects should have been used better and there should have been lots of action, but they have sacrificed those elements just to add some drama. Still, it is not different from most of the usual superhero movies, especially the X-Men related ones. The characters don’t seem to get into the situation much, and there is rather too much confusion between them. This one should tried to bring more thrills and action from the material that they had, and in the case of mutants, they should have put their powers to use more frequently and efficiently, but that is not there. Then they decided to get rid of Quicksilver who scored so well, and that is a shame.

Performers of the soul :: If someone has to be applauded from his first appearance to the last, it has to be Michael Fassbender, as he is the one who stands out in this movie, making his character the one to look out for. James McAvoy has his moments, but this younger version of Professor is rather impressive only in moments. Jennifer Lawrence shines as the unique mutant Mystique and it was great to watch whenever she was there, but the question would remain if there could have been more in a movie which is based on her and the whole thing is dependent on her actions. Hugh Jackman is once again the Wolverine with style, but this version is rather passive, without that recklessness and anger that we identify the character with, and that was disappointing. Seriously, why would the Wolverine be not aggressive? It is a shame that Anna Paquin’s Rogue was just a cameo, she was one of my favourites with Nightcrawler who is again missing. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver might impress more than many other mutants in just the few minutes that he is present while Nicholas Hoult’s Beast becomes less significant. Meanwhile, Ellen Page and the rest of the mutants of the future present has limited presence compared to those of the past.

Soul exploration :: The movie continues to deal with the basic mutant problem with the human fear for the unknown and the alienation of the other that follows. The end-point of all of these is holocaust, by exaggeration of things which might seem to project the possible extinction with more power than ever. Once again Trask Industries becomes what Stark Industries wasn’t in The Avengers and related movies, being the dark force of science and technology against the one that powered Iron Man. Just with words re-arranged, this industry once again asks the familiar question for those essays at school – “technology: boon or bane?” I thought they were finished with that, but this question might always remain with the technology being an advantage only for the rich and the need to go to space rather than saving Earth. The questions that should be evoked might be about the results of changing the past. It is impossible to change it, but even if it is changed, how will the future respond? Are some things always supposed to happen, no matter how hard we try to change it? Yes, everything seemed to work well by the end of the movie, but how can we be sure about that until a sequel comes to light?

How it finishes :: This franchise might have finished with X-Men 3: The Last Stand, but it didn’t, and came up with two successful origin movies for its most popular character and also created another success without him in the form of X-Men: First Class. The movie also leaves the franchise with endless possibilities to go towards many directions. The destruction of a timeline or rather the disruption of the same can effectively trigger a reboot or many other movies in between. It might seem like a risk, but there are lots of things that it can achieve for a superhero franchise. You might wish to finish watching the other movies of the franchise before watching this one. Then there is always the presence of someone like Jennifer Lawrence who transforms not just like Mystique, but also like Katniss Everdeen becoming Raven – now the question remains, will this change of the past which makes her not an assassin land her somewhere else than not with Magneto? May be with X-Men or as a neutral? How surprising can it be if she is also part of that same school of Professor X? There is a lot to expect from another X-Men movie, that is for sure.

Release date: 23rd May 2014
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Daniel Cudmore, Evan Peters, Fan Bingbing, Adam Canto, Lucas Till, Booboo Stewart, Josh Helman, Mark Camacho, Evan Jonigkeit, Gregg Lowe

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cloud Atlas

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If Cloud Atlas could be termed an anthology movie, it should be my all-time favourite in that genre, but it follows that path which moves the film back and forth through centuries and through different stories of this world. At one moment, you identify with one person, and the next moment, you see another world, one might be of the early nineteenth century, and the next one of a post-apocalyptic future which goes further beyond this century. I would prefer this method more than the typical anthology method which has even made an impact in Malayalam movies with Kerala Cafe and 5 Sundarikal, as this is more intellectually effective, as we moves through the minds and souls of all these characters at the same moment, and they are with us until the end of the whole movie-watching experience. All characters and locations stay with us together, like a mixture which resembles the real life. It is adapted from a 2004 novel by David Mitchell of the same name. The movie features multiple stories set across six different ages when the mankind has to face entirely different things, and faces them individually, and still most of them resemble each other with each action which was done in one century has indirectly affected the other, even as there is no direct relation between all these.

✠ Segment I: @South Pacific Ocean, in the year of Our Lord, 1849: This tells the story of Adam Ewing, a man with a powerful conscience who witnesses the whipping of a slave, Autua with digust. The slave later sneaks aboard Ewing’s ship in an attempt to escape from the world of pain and torture and attain freedom. Ewing helps him out, but not without doubts in his mind. Meanwhile, Doctor Henry Goose, his physician, slowly poisons Ewing, claiming that he is treating the man for a parasitic worm ever since he had collapsed seeing the whipping of the slave. He aims to steal Ewing’s valuables one by one. ***[Spoiler Warning for the next two lines]*** But when the doctor is about to finish the man with a fatal dose of poison, Autua intervens at the exact moment and saves Ewing. Returning to the United States as a changed man and with a clear idea in his mind, Ewing with the support of his wife Tilda, denounce her father’s involvement in slavery and leave San Francisco to join the movement against slavery. It is quite touching as a story, but the effect is limited – still works fine as a story which will inspire what is to follow. I wouldn’t go on to rate these stories considering them as part of an anthology though, and therefore you shall see none here. Still, this movie has the most clear message of them all, with no piece of ambiguity added at any point.

✠ Segment II: @Cambridge, England and Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, in the year of Our Lord, 1936: Robert Frobisher, a bisexual English musician, finds some work with composer Vyvyan Ayrsand after leading a life of high immorality and the worst possible scandals if discovered during the Victorian Age in Britain. He helps him to compose his own masterpiece, which is refered to as “The Cloud Atlas Sextet”. He is also attracted to the composer’s wife, a feeling which is mutual and has a relationship with her too. But Ayrs wishes to take credit for the work as his own, and threatens to expose Robert’s scandalous and immoral background if he tries to stop him. ***[Spoiler Warning for the next two lines]*** Robert who has read a partial copy of Ewing’s journal, shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel, where he finishes the musical work. He then shoots himself and commits suicide just before his lover arrives. This is a story of lesser, or may be the least effectiveness, and I would consider this the weakest of them all. This one doesn’t even have a worthy character who could make an impact, and thus works as the story which prevents this movie from becoming the masterpiece, still holding itself together to prevent falling into that abyss.

✠ Segment III: @San Francisco, California, in the year of Our Lord, 1973: Here, a journalist Luisa Rey meets an old man, Rufus Sixsmith who was the lover of Robert Frobisher in the earlier segment of 1936. He is now a nuclear physicist who tells Rey about a hidden conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by a powerful man named Lloyd Hooks. He is assassinated by a hitman Bill Smoke before he can give her a report that could prove the same. But she is helped by another scientist at the power plant. But she is chased by the assassins and involves herself in a life or death situation. There would be no spoiler spoiled in this paragraph, and what connects this story to the first one is that common factor of lineage which goes back to the slavery and its abolishment, as well as “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” which makes its entry here too. This story is more of a continuation and the carrier of the earlier legacy of the two segments even as most of these things remain indirect and not easily noticeable. This is also Halle Berry’s best performance throughout the movie as she appears in entirely different roles in the segments.

✠ Segment IV: @England/Scotland, United Kingdom, in the year of Our Lord, 2012: Timothy Cavendish has his own problems when Dermot Hoggins, a gangster author whose book he has published, murders a critic and is sent to prison, and the gangster’s brothers threaten him regularly to get his share of the profits. Cavendish turns to his brother Denholme for help even as they don’t like each other that much and were not on good terms, but the brother tricks him into hiding in a nursing home, and it turns into a kind of prison for him, as he is held against his will, but he escapes with a number of inmates who shared his vision of freedom. The connection is established when Cavendish receives a manuscript of a novel based on Rey’s life. This is a touching, as well as funny story, which starts off slowly, but by the end, it leaves a profound influence on the viewers. This can be considered as the only story which has that lighter side in the serious world which tries to tickle the intellect throughout. The terms cute and sweet can also be linked to this one by the end of the segment.

✠ Segment V: @Neo Seoul, Korea, in the year of Our Lord, 2144: Sonmi-451 is a genetically-engineered clone server at a restaurant who is interviewed just before her execution. She tells the story of her release from her life of servitude and modernized slavery by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a leading member of a rebel movement known as Union. While they are hiding from the troops, she watches a film based on Cavendish’s adventure thus making a connection to the previous segment. It is revealed to her that the clones like her are killed and “recycled” into food for future clones who becomes the server in the restaurants later without themselves knowing anything about it. Just like the people of 1849, she also decides that the system of such a dystopian society based on slavery and exploitation of other living beings is evil and not to be tolerated, and how she changes the world or at least make it aware of what is happening under the mask of a righteous and perfect world forms this story of revolution, an element which has existed throughout the segments. She is a representative of all ages, and she is that vision of the past that future has upheld with pride.

✠ Segment VI: @The Big Island, in the year of Our Lord, 2321: Zachry is just another random person who lives with his sister and niece Catkin in a primitive society after most of the humanity has died in an apocalyptic event which is not mentioned, but a possible nuclear warfare and related massive destruction can be guessed. Sonmi-451 of the previous segment is worshiped as a goddess and her broadcast is part of their sacred texts. Zachry is plagued by strange visions of a figure who creates fear in him, and leads to him running away from problems all the time, something which haunts him throughout his life, as he couldn’t save his own people from death due to his fear and hallucinations. They are also attacked by a fierce cannibalistic group regularly. One day, his village is visited by a more modern individual, part of the society which had more access to the technology during te apocalypse, and this changes his life forever. There is also an epilogue in which more of who tells these stories and from where – all these are revealed to the viewers. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are there for all the segments, and have done a great job in fitting in. The same can be said about Hugo Weaving, and Doona Bae is highly impressive in Segment V. The movie is not for everybody, but it is a wonderfully crafted work of art made from a work which was near impossible to adapt on screen, as something which inspires one continuously as long as he or she is able to stay with it, and there are good intentions related to this one, and the viewers can’t simply deny that.

Release date: 26th October 2012
Running time: 172 minutes
Directed by: The Wachowskis – Laurence Wachowski and Andrew Paul Wachowski [segments 1849, 2144, 2321], Tom Tykwer [segments 1936, 1973, 2012]
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.