The Lost Village

Vampire Owl: I was looking for blue creatures in our realm. There has been none.

Vampire Bat: After orcs had chosen green and goblins also choosing the same, the popularity for blue has been decreasing.

Vampire Owl: And these werewolves always come in black.

Vampire Bat: Just like those Batman gadgets.

Vampire Owl: Even Mr. Luttappi is just red, you know.

Vampire Bat: Do you even remember having watched these Smurfs movies?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I can clearly remember that I have watched them both.

Vampire Bat: Okay, then talk about something that you remember more than the rest.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that there was anything in particular – there was the village, blue people, bad wizard with a cat…

Vampire Bat: It was the main problem. They were not at all memorable.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: In the secret Smurf Village, the Smurfs continue to live a happy life, hidden from the evil that await in the outside world. Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), their leader takes care of them as a fatherly figure, and things go on quite normally through times. Among those Smurfs who are given names according to their character or purpose are Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello) and many others, with even the strangest of names. It is only Smurfette (Demi Lovato) whom, despite being admired by all other smurfs as the only girl smurf around, seems to have no sense of purpose. As she was created by the evil remorseless wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) from a lump of clay to use as the means to catch other smurfs, now she has no meaning of life, transformed into one of them, and out of the evil ways. It keeps bothering her most of the time.

So, what happens next in the adventure? :: With Gargamel on a mission to capture the Smurfs, steal their blue essence, and become the strongest wizard in the world, Smurfette and her friends sneak out of their village. Gargamel’s pet cat Azrael (Frank Welker) and his pet vulture Monty (Dee Bradley Baker) are also on the look out for any sign of a smurf in the woods. Smurfette comes up against a blue creature hidden by leaves, which runs away into the Forbidden Forest, and leaves a hat behind. She as well as the hat is taken by Garamel, who uses it to discover the location of a new group of smurfs with his magic. She is rescued by her friends, and all of them get grounded by Papa Smurf for disobeying him. But she is determined to save these lost smurfs from the evil wizard, and with her friends, set out for Forbidden Village, no matter how forbidden it is for her people. At the same time, Gargamel, Azrael and Monty also set out in search for the new village.

And what is to follow with the blue people against a wizard and his minions? :: The smurfs are attacked by Gargamel and his team, and is presumed dead by the evil wizard, but they escape with the help of a few bunnies. It is quite the dangerous mission that they are up against, as they have no idea what dangers lie ahead in a world which has been forbidden to them for such a long time. There they come up against animals and plants which are not normal, and soon they would be on a race against Gargamel, Azrael and Monty who are also traveling on the same route. Surprised to find each other again, they race, only to have Gargamel drowning in the river. After Hefty and Smurfette support the idea of saving him, he throws the smurfs down the waterfalls instead of thanking them. But they survive, and travel on land. They are soon trapped by the blue creatures under the leaves. They are supposed to be smurfs aren’t they? If they are smurfs, they are surely in danger, right?

The defence of Smurfs: The Lost Village :: There are good visuals for this one, that is for sure, and we get to see some nice animation not just with the characters, but also with the world. There is no more the mixture of the real world and the animated world, which is also a nice thing – also, there are no humans in this one except for the big evil wizard; it is another positive thing, as the mixture can have big problems with working. This is indeed cute and sweet too, and with all the colours around, the kids are going to enjoy it without doubt, and everyone else is going to have their childish side awakened. There are occasions when you feel that this is the kind of movie which you would have loved to watch during your early childhood, but wasn’t there; we are always happy that we had those Doordarshan cartoons like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ducktales, Talespin and Tom and Jerry, but we imagine ourselves having such a treat, but childhood is long gone, a sad thing indeed.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is without doubt, predictable from the first moment itself. It is not like the same becomes a big problem in an animated feature film which is prone to the same. But you know that there have been exceptions like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out and others which have deviated from the expected path during the journey more than once. Smurfs: The Lost Village never really stands a chance against the animated movies of our times, with How to Train Your Dragon 2, Finding Dory and Kung Fu Panda 3, all being pretty cool sequels inheriting the original’s qualities. Just like its predecessors, this one has predictability written into it. The movie also has too much focus on one character whose search for her purpose gets rather repetitive. There is also the inability to capitalize on a funny side which always had the chance to be better. It even has a villain who is not even half smart as his cat, and that is not used to bring enough laughter. Better and smarter story in also not on cards.

How it finishes :: Smurfs: The Lost Village can be seen not to deviate, not inside the movie, and also not within the franchise. But it surely manages to be one of the most appropriate movies for the kids, with not much left to ponder about except for finding one’s purpose in life, and it leaves the message that being good will bring that meaning of life on this day, or at some other point – there is only the need to wait for the same. During these time when the life as well as the movies are so complicated, this kind of cuteness becomes rather necessary, and let the simplicity of this one save us from the complex evil of a world which is slowly and steadily being taken over by those who have no heart. The Smurfs franchise is becoming more interested in being the brand which has movies to add to it rather than flicks with big tales. Well, there is more than one than one way to go around with things, and cute little creatures are more than just fair for children.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Jake Johnson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts, Gordon Ramsay, Tituss Burgess, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Kelly Asbury, Bret Marnell, Melissa Sturm, Frank Welker, Dee Bradley Baker

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Mummy

Vampire Owl: It seems that finally the mummy has scope to be a real mummy.

Vampire Bat: What are you referring to, here?

Vampire Owl: Usually in the movies, the mummies are men, and so the mummy is usually a daddy.

Vampire Bat: And you are talking like a dummy, for which there is no need.

Vampire Owl: No, you should see the mummy lady in this one. She is cooler than most of the known mummies.

Vampire Bat: You know one mummy which is cooler. You just can’t pronounce his name.

Vampire Owl: Yes, why don’t they have simple names like Count Dracula?

Vampire Bat: Well, mummies are from very ancient Egypt, and going so long back, such names had to exist.

Vampire Owl: I am going to call them Mummy A to Mummy Z.

Vampire Bat: Yes, please do it, as long as they don’t hear the same.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and special popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: In ancient Egypt, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is an expert in almost everything, and is undoubtedly the best warrior, and the next in line for becoming the Pharoah of the lands. The Pharaoh, Menehptre (Selva Rasalingam) also sees his successor in her, strong, courageous and one who doesn’t give up. Things are all going smooth until the Pharoah has a son with a newer, younger wife, which angers her as she realises that all her work has been for nothing, with this young child taking over the kingdom as the Pharaoh of Egypt when he grows up. Frustrated with the situation, she decides to take the throne in one way or the other. Knowing that she can’t do it by himself against the extremely powerful Pharaoh, chooses to worship Set, the god of evil, chaos and war. This particular god who had even killed his own brother Osiris helps her in return for unleashing himself on Earth – but, after killing her father, his wife and the baby boy, she is captured by the guards and mummified.

So, what happens next? :: With the princess mummified, and buried in a land far away, the curse of Set remains, as the promise to him in unleashing the god was not kept. Years later, somewhere in the present Iraq, Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his best friend Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) spend their time looking to gather what all antiques they can get from the area of the nation called Mesopotamia, which used to be the cradle of civilisation while having their own trouble with the locals as well as the terrorist organisations operating from there. It is during these times when they accidentally uncover a tomb, which seems to be Egyptian, much to the surprise of the archaeologist, Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) who also lands there as part of her excavations. With the approval of Colonel Greenway (Courtney B. Vance), she goes into the tomb supported by Nick and Cris, ending up with a sarcophagus immersed in mercury, which they decide to take home.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Their trip is rather cut short as the flight is attacked by a huge group of crows, and Cris who was bitten by a spider inside the tomb also turns undead, and Nick has to kill him. The plane ends up crashing, and Nick manages to save Jennifer by using the parachute, but he as well as the others in the airplane are assumed to be killed. But Nick ends up waking up in the mortuary, with a vision of an undead Cris, and he also has visions about the princess. He begins having more and more visions of the princess and undead, and goes to the crash site only to escape from the princess and her newly resurrected undead. It is a secret society headed by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russel Crowe) that helps them to escape, and after chaining the princess in such a way that there is no way to get away, explains to Nick that he is the key to her finishing the curse, which why he escaped without a scratch from the plane crash. Well, evil would always find a way, and so does the princess to escape and unleash herself – can anyone stop her in time?

The defence of The Mummy :: The movie does begin strongly, and there is certainly a nice beginning to the tale, with the interesting tale of the power-hungry princess of Egypt told and also with the mummy being unearthed, followed by the plane crash – there are also some nice visuals with everything, and the visual beauty is there throughout this movie no matter where things happen. Tom Cruise does a great job as the protagonist, and Sofia Boutella is amazing as the princess of Egypt returning as the mummy – the censor board seems to have worked very well to cover most of her tattooes; maybe they are against Indian culture more than we think they are, and it is not the movie makers who decide what we can watch, it is the current Chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification in India, after himself getting to watch everything because he can – we saw most of it in the trailer, seriously. Russell Crowe is sadly wasted in his role though, and so is Annabelle Wallis, both having characters going nowhere against a powerful, love-seeking mummy and an even more powerful human Cruise.

The claws of flaw :: There is a certain loss of direction regarding this movie – the same can’t be called as positive divergence, because it just goes on and on, even adding the elements of Jekyll and Hyde, and one has to wonder why it had to be done, when enough material is available from the tales of mummies; people end up wondering if they are going to add the Hulk next. It is as if the idea about making good blockbusters by reboot, is leaving Hollywood. Not sure why decided to bring the mummy from Egypt to Iraq and then to England, with not much of Egypt there in the picture – we would have preferred to see the Pyramids whenever the word mummy was associated, and not like what they did with the third of the mummy movies. It was Dracula who really had to come to England, a vampire, not a mummy. The humour is of no use, and the climax is of no strength, with weak twists, and the final sequence not interesting at all. Also, Tom Cruise’s character gets bigger than the mummy on whom the movie is really supposed to be about, and it is also a creature who can be captured with sharp weapons.

How it finishes :: The Mummy brings the tale of the undead creature from Egypt once again, and this time not exactly in the same path. This certainly won’t prove to be a match for the movie of 1999 and its sequel, The Mummy Returns. This is surely better than The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor though, and one has to wonder if this stands any chance against Wonder Woman, or even the still running Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. It will certainly not bring three sequels and four spin-offs unless there is a big improvement with a sequel. Even though not a bad movie as it has its interesting moments supported by visuals and thrills, the execution is not that much there, which should give it a disadvantage against the movies which released earlier – but with Tom Cruise around, this should do okay at the box-office. After all, it has been a long time since we saw a Mummy movie, and a female Mummy as the main villain brings more variety to the tale. But where we want Tom Cruise more is in movies like Edge of Tomorrow, Mission Impossible, Jack Reacher, Minority Report, Oblivion and many others. Underworld and Resident Evil franchises, despite being in confusion due to too many movies, could combine action and horror better.

Release date: 9th June 2017
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe, Javier Botet, Selva Rasalingam, Dylan Smith, Rez Kempton, Chasty Ballesteros

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jurassic World

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Vampire Owl: Are you sure that the dinosaurs haven’t ever allied with werewolves and were not the enemies of the Old Vampire World?

Vampire Bat: Yes. It says right here in the Grand Vampire History and Encyclopedia. Dinosaurs were a neutral group of creatures who preceded the Draconian Reptile Order, but has no direct relation with any of the magical species of the present world.

Vampire Owl: Lets watch the movie then.

[Gets the tickets].

This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com where I handle the Hollywood movie reviews division: http://www.kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/867-jurassic-world-movie-review.html

A long time has passed since our last adventures in a park of dinosaurs. It took the makers quite a long time after that 1993 movie which had a big place in our childhood and also spawned two sequels which made a much lesser impact even when taken together. The aim for this third sequel seems to be simple – as they understand that sequels and remakes are doing wonderful work these days at the box-office. It is not easy to match up to a movie which had become the highest grossing movie, breaking all records, until Titanic came up to claim the status of the highest grosser of all time – but Jurassic World was going to give it a try.

A new dinosaur theme park is open with live dinosaurs, twenty two years after the incidents which were featured in the first Jurassic Park. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the park operations manager, and her nephews, Zach Mitchell (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) arrives at the park for having some family time together along with enjoying the special features of the place. The park had become a favourite destination for the tourists and had grown a lot with its environment and the new varieties of dinosaurs. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is a trainer of Velociraptors, who is asked by Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), the owner of the Jurassic World to check for safety at the enclosure set for a new genetically modified dinosaur which they call the Indominus Rex.

The dinosaur turns out to be smarter than they thought, as the creature manages to get out of the enclosure while pretending to have already escaped, and Owen just manages to get away at the last minute. The rest of the movie is about the destruction that the creature causes and how the team at the Jurassic World led by Owen and Claire manages to finish it off, as the hybrid dinosaur unleashes chaos, taking out the tracking implant from its own body and asserting its supremacy over all other creatures. At the same time, they also have to find the missing brothers who were on a ride which was cancelled with the declaration of emergency throughout the park.

As most of the fans might have expected, Jurassic World is nowhere near the original Jurassic Park. But among the sequels of the original movie, this one manages to be the best so far. The movie is full of entertainment even with those occasional moments of slight drag. There are some nice attractions and good design of dinosaurs with fine use of the CGI and the special effects. The new park which has its last name replaced is a joy to watch with its design and visuals. The creatures look better as you would expect, and the battles have also gone bigger with those better dinosaurs and people armed with better weapons. But there was the need to show and explain more of the new park, establishing it as a genuine wonder for the tourists.

Chris Pratt doesn’t go on like in Guardians of the Galaxy – he is not even the central character here despite the fact that he might be the one who goes through the maximum action sequences. It is a different kind of character from that space action movie, and he manages it very well. The scene with him riding on a bike surrounded by the raptors is a very nice one, and he is the one real action hero of this movie. The main character is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, and she is like the least interested character who manages to get forced into the action and she works that out very well. There is also more humour when she is around, and she contributes to saving the day as much as Chris Pratt and sometimes even more.

Irrfan Khan is a fine reason for the Indian audience to watch the movie. If you remember seeing him in The Amazing Spider-Man, this is a similar role, but lasts longer and actually he does more in this movie – another millionaire, ambitious, but not really villainous this time. But there is surely limited scope for performances in a movie ruled by dinosaurs who remain the true performers just like they have been throughout the franchise. This is the same reason why the smartness of the dinosaur should have been better used instead of its size and strength – may be it could have been shown to hunt more by using its intelligence causing the humans to come up with stranger ideas to bring it down. That would have meant scope for more stylish, and yet intelligent action.

Jurassic World is a movie that brings you some dinosaur nostalgia as the memories of your childhood’s most awesome movies come back to life. There are moments which remind us of the first movie of the franchise. There is no other creature which sells like the dinosaur in a movie, and it was evident with the rush at the theatre. The specialty of this one is that the whole thing connects better even to people with a wide variety of preferences. This could have used more wonder and tension, but this still manages to be your fine entertainer with scope of becoming a nice blockbuster, and may be even go on to become the third highest grossing movie of the year with half of 2015 gone, after Fast and Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Release date: 11th June 2015 (India); 12th June 2015 (USA)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B. D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, Brian Tee, Lauren Lapkus, Katie McGrath, Judy Greer, Andy Buckley, James DuMont, Jimmy Fallon

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.