Dark Phoenix

What is the movie about? :: In the year 1992, when a space mission seems to be in trouble, while facing a solar flare, the X-Men lead by Professor X a.k.a. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) decides to help the humans, and once again prove that mutants and humand are to co-exist. But it is a risky mission, as the plane is ready for a journey into space. But the team including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler a.k.a. Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Storm a.k.a. Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp), Quicksilver a.k.a. Peter Maximoff (Evan Peter), Mystique a.k.a. Raven Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast a.k.a. Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and Cyclops a.k.a. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) go on the mission despite having the doubts. The situation seems under control as Nightcrawler’s teleportation and Quicksilver’s high speed seems to be enough to finish the job.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But it is revealed that there is one more person to be saved, and they decide to go back. With Jean holding the space shuttle together, Nightcrawler takes the remaining person out, but is unable to take Jean back as the solar flare covers her. But he is able to recover her body after that, and surprisingly, she wakes up. The X-Men are hailed as heroes by the public, and the bond between humans and mutants gets to be stronger. But there is something different about Jane after that incident. Hank finds her energy to be beyond comprehension, crossing all borders. Scott also feels that there is something different about her. At the same time, Raven is not happy about Charles leading the mission to a point from which a return becomes near impossible; she feels that making a future with the deaths of mutants won’t be fair.

And what more is to happen? :: Jean seems to unleash herself at a point, and collapses. Unable to get into her head for the first time, Charles uses the Cerebro machine, and with it at high power, finds that the bad memories that he had shielded in the mind of Jean, are now out in the open, and she won’t be the same again. With memories of her distant past coming back to her, Jean leaves, and the X-Men follows here – they won’t have anything positive to find there though. Her actions there would turn both mutants and humans against her, with no chance to return to the previous state. At the same time, certain aliens from outer space have also reached Earth, searching for the Phoenix Force within Jane. They are lead by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) who serves as the leader of this shape-shifting alien race, called D’Bari. This would lead to time running out for Jean, before she could be herself again.

The defence of X-Men: Dark Phoenix :: The action sequences surely score with this movie, and so does the visual beauty. The action on the train in the final moments are among the best so far in any X-Men movie. There are also a few others which offer something similar. The special effects are used well, and we see the mutant powers being used nicely. CGI is used nicely by the movie, as the desire for another superhero movie after Avengers: Endgame has been provided in the form of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The path that the movie takes seems to be interesting, and ready to bring further twists, even though this might be the final movie of this film with these characters in the main roles. The premise is a wonderful one for sure, even though the movie doesn’t really use the same to the best of effects. It has also released in India earlier than the original release date, and it should serve the movie to get better collections here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is unable to prove to be better than X-Men: The Last Stand which was the movie which dealt with the same story thirteen years ago, and still managed to better at that time. It was not a fantastic movie in any way, but it had somehow managed to do better, not just with its story, but as a whole – it is only with the final moments of action that this movie holds more power. The titular character is also not explored in the right way, as her being all-powerful just goes too much beyond the border, as we get tired of the same quickly. We also know what is to happen with this tale, and how the same person does the job in the end is ridiculous – this is where the previous Dark Phoenix movie served better, with weakness in between the all-powerful; think about Superman without the idea of kryptonite there, and it is easier to understand. The movie also slows down in the middle, and the emotions go weak on a number of occasions.

The performers of the soul :: Sophie Turner from the Game of Thrones fame, has been an interesting addition to the film series – we see her continuing her form at a number of moments, but not as a whole, as things get repetitive. We wouldn’t get to see her as we had seen her in the popular television series, with the avatar itself being different around here. It would have been nice to see her as the earlier and more vulnerable Jane better. Jennifer Lawrence is completely wasted in her short stay there, and there is nothing that she does except for coming up with some unnecessary dialogues. The one who comes up with some of the best moments is Michael Fassbender, who shines as Magneto once again, rising above his good friend and leader of X-Men – James McAvoy who plays the leader is a weakened figure going too strange this time. Alexandra Shipp and Nicholas Hoult come up with pretty good job here. Kodi Smit-McPhee is memorable, while Jessica Chastain and Tye Sheridan are not.

How it finishes :: There is something about X-Men that we have always loved, going back to the childhood memories of watching that animated series. There is not much of a reflection of the same around here though, as the level has certainly come down from the predecessors X-Men: Days of the Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse – it can’t even stand against the single mutant centered tales which came earlier, like Deadpool, Deadpool 2, The Wolverine and Logan. But it is enjoyable up to an extent, thanks to the action sequences where the mutants go for the full scale display of their powers. We are not going to miss the X-Men after this as we already miss Wolverine, and so lets watch a movie of the series one more time, and enjoy the good parts, while we will also have The New Mutants releasing next year as an extra addition. It will have Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams as young mutants, making it something to look forward to.

Release date: 5th June 2019 (India); 7th June 2019 (USA)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Passengers

What is the movie about? :: It is a long time into the future with space technology being very much capable of almost anything that has been dreamt about right now. It has reached a state of near perfection that science is now something that cannot fail to deliver the promises which are calculated and made, no matter what the circumstances are. There is the highly advanced spaceship named Avalon which is transporting around five thousand colonists and a crew of two hundred and fifty eight suspended in hibernation pods to the new colony far away in space, the planet Homestead II through a journey that is expected to take one hundred and twenty years. Just thirty years into its journey, the ship comes across an asteroid belt, and despite keeping the shield strength at its highest, hits one of the huge projectiles, and faces multiple errors, all of it the ship repairs by itself while on autopilot, but there is the connection to pod number 1498 which gets struck hard, and the system is unable to repair the same.

So, what happens next? :: This problem awakens the passenger in hibernation inside the pod, a mechanical engineer named Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), ninety years earlier than he was supposed to wake up. After the early briefing and classes, he realises that he is the only one awake, and it is too early considering the fact that he was supposed to wake up only four months before the ship made landfall – at this rate, he was only going to age and die before the ship reached its destination. He tries sending a message to Earth, but not only does it prove expensive, the same is going to take nineteen years to arrive at the home planet, and the earliest reply is estimated to take fifty five years. He tries getting inside the pod again, and even repairing the pod using the instructions and his own technical skills, but there is no hope there. He tries to contact the people responsible, but the only people whom he gets to speak with are the machines and all he receives are automated answers.

And where does things go from there? :: After having tried everything including breaking in to places, Jim gets ready to accept his fate, talking and spending time with Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender on the ship, as well as forcing himself into the areas of higher class passengers and enjoying special privileges. One year goes by, and Jim gets more and more disappointed about his situation, and even thinks about committing suicide, despite finally deciding against it. There is almost nothing new happening out there, and the spaceship just goes on through its path. But one day, while going through the pods, he come across Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) sleeping in her pod. He watches her profile and video and immediately falls for her, a writer. After thinking deep about it, he makes her pod malfunction, and she also awakens. He tells Arthur not to reveal the truth behind her pod to her.

And where are things heading now? :: Aurora, hopeless at first about the fact that she is going to age and die before reaching her dream destination, goes through the same things that Jim tried, and finally decides to write about her experiences during the journey. Soon, the two become very close to each other. Aurora trusts Jim as the only other person there, and the one last human being she is going to see in her life before she dies. But things don’t go that smooth as expected, and there is no perfect love story coming up here. The secret will be revealed, as Aurora will find out the truth behind her pod failure, and she won’t be the same person after that. At the same time, another pod will malfunction, and the same will awaken Gus (Laurence Fishburne), a Chief Deck Officer. He will reveal a few things about the current situation of the ship, which will threaten the lives of everyone on board. Can the ship be saved from a terrible fate that awaits, and can Jim and Aurora work together for the same?

The defence of Passengers :: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are undoubtedly great together – there is a great chemistry going on there. The visuals are nothing less than stunning, and the spaceship is something that will stay in your minds for its splendour not just outside, but also inside. The swimming pool without gravity is among the best. Yes, the space remains amazing, and so do our ship and the leading characters. This is about the two people, their emotions and the space ship – along with all the saving that is needed in the end. Unlike what the reviewers are constantly saying without thinking deeper about there is one act of sacrifice and selflessness that we get to see in the end. Above all, this is also more like the tale of Adam and Eve, with the two protagonists getting to live with themselves, as the spaceship which faces devastation like our planet does, many years later – it can only be told later if the world in space survives, as the rest of the four thousand nine hundred and ninety eight people will get to be born again into a new world.

The claws of flaw :: There could have been better pacing for a two hour long movie, even though it never really brings the boredom to us. It is also not so good that Laurence Fishburne gets to come too late – there is a little too much going on before that, to be exact. We could have gotten this movie to be shorter by at least fifteen minutes, or rather could have had more action rather than extending the lonely life of the protagonist, and the relationship between the two main characters so much. There is even that happy climax which seems to be forced, but as I read some reviews by a few self-proclaimed intellectual reviewers, I feel that that climax and ending is the best, for it should have irritated their stubborn side a lot more. Maybe, you can search for the reviews with a lot of use of the word “selfish”, and then you can find out the flaws which have discovered, or rather created in this movie – most of them don’t really exist if you look at the flick; for I was very much immersed in this movie.

How it finishes :: The reviews on this movie have remained prejudiced, and that is not surprising considering how these people have been degrading the good movies in favour of those particular kind of movies, and try to make these movies score better at the box-office; it has been going on as a trend. The good thing is that a lot of reviewers from India have succeeded in going beyond that prejudice to like this flick. What surprises us the most is that almost all these reviewers who would do the exact same thing when caught up with a situation like this, have chosen to blame the protagonist, as well as the makers of the movie for so many factors related to the same – some people are just too idiotic to take only selected things into heart, when all these have finally come together to save so many lives in the end. We don’t have one selfish person here, but two, as it is evident from the second character, and it is selflessness and sacrifice that wins in the end – lets hope that people who have no idea of love and sacrifice will one day understand that. Well, who needs a more human story in space when there is Interstellar full of science and no humanity? For action, there are the Star Trek movies, Jupiter Ascending, Guardians of the Galaxy and many more. But this one is also worth it! If you liked this, do watch Pandorum.

Release date: 21st December 2016 (USA); 6th January 2017 (India)
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Nazanin Boniadi, Andy García, Aurora Perrineau, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Julee Cerda, Conor Brophy, Lauren Farmer, Aurora Perrineau, Emerald Mayne, Kristin Brock

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

X-Men: Apocalypse

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What is the movie about? :: En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), later known as the Apocalypse, the world’s first mutant possessed powers that were stronger than everyone else combined, and ruled the ancient Egyptian civilisation as the force that nobody could think about stopping. Worshipped as God and obeyed as the king, he enjoyed unlimited powers in the greatest civilisation of its time on the banks of River Nile. Using his powers to make himself even stronger and supported by four other powerful mutants who are referred to as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he easily got rid of all those who stood against him. But one day, his worshipers who had enough of his tyranny manage to hold and bury him inside a pyramid at a time when he was changing his body to keep his eternal life going. With his mutant force dead while trying to preserve him, he stayed there, buried deep.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: After many years, Apocalypse awakens to a world which is nowhere near his vision. With the weaklings humans having control over everything with their machines, he decides to destroy all that mankind has built to create a new world which will have him and his fellow mutants as gods and demigods, who are to be worshiped by the weak humans. With Egypt as the centre of the new world again, he would bring the change that every mutant would have wanted to happen at some point. As an immortal being, he understands that he should still be the greatest power of the time, even bigger than the weapons of mass destruction that the man has invented, and also those mutants of the newer age. With the rise of the Apocalypse, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) begins to have terrible visions about the end of the world.

So, what follows the rise of Apocalypse? :: Alex Summers a.k.a. Havoc (Lucas Till) finds out that his younger brother Scott a.k.a. Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) is mutating and is having problems with controlling the optic beams coming out of his eyes. He takes Scott to Professor Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) institute for mutants, hoping that they could find some way to bring him in control. There, Scott meets Jean and they become good friends. Meanwhile, Apocalypse finds his four horsemen starting with Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm (Alexandra Shipp) who is a pickpocket wandering around the streets of Cairo, Psylocke (Olivia Munn) who happens to be a blackmarket enforcer, Angel (Ben Hardy) who used to be a fighter, and Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who is deeply saddened by the death of his wife and daugher in the hands of humans.

What fate awaits the world with Apocalypse unleashed? :: With Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) returning to the institute with the new recruit Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) to talk about Magneto and Peter Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) joining them in a search for his father, can they stop the evil that threatens to destroy the world right from its foundation itself? What does Dr. Henry McCoy a.k.a the Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who is looking forward to being themselves and the CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) who has been witness to the rise of this ancient evil think? What role does Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman) has to play as he looks forward to turn these mutants into weapons following his Weapon X programme? Does any of these mutants stand a chance against Apocalypse and his upgraded horsemen?

The defence of X-Men: Apocalypse :: The big advantage of this X-Men movie that it makes the viewers think – it is a development that has come a long way since this series first showed up. The action sequences are also nothing less than amazing, with the mutants at their full power battling for what they think is the best for their world. The battles are nicely done, and there are lots of visual effects that are used really well. In the end, it become more of that visual treat, and its mutant characters are all very interesting, and the most interesting one should be Nightcrawler who returns to the franchise after a long time. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey becomes a nice improvement for this character that we have seen before and had gone to the worst possible level in X-Men: The Last Stand. Olivia Munn as Psylocke also catches our attention even when she gets less screen space, and with all of them around, the final battle becomes something nothing less than a full action treat.

Positives and negatives :: Among all X-Men movies, I have felt that this one is not just the best looking, but also the best-fitting into that long list of puzzles that make the franchise. Some people might find this rising evil and saving the world to be repetitive, but without that what would superhero movies do? Maybe Apocalypse is that kind of a villain who got even more possibilities, but this one works as it is. This one also doesn’t directly continue from where the last movie had left off. Meanwhile, the movie also reminds you of how good Michael Fassbender is, as Magneto never gets to be any less interesting. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver continues to catch one’s attention, as he also gets his own nice sequences. There is one sad thing though, and it is that Mystique doesn’t get enough of her place as a character with her own style to be interesting, and the same is the case of the Beast and Storm. Well, you needed a spectacle bigger than the previous movies, and you can have it here – just keep the thoughts of repetitions away from the mind!

How it finishes :: X-Men: Apocalypse is actually an improvement from its predecessors released in the last few years, including X-Men First Class, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Deadpool. Filled with entertainment right from the beginning, and also having a fine emotional side, this movie will make sure that the full 144 minutes don’t go missing. With all these mutant powers running wild, one has to wonder why people can choose not like this movie. The full dose of action that is present here often makes one wonder if Avenger movies can take something right out of this one. There is intelligence in the choice of mutants and the use of their powers displayed on screen, and we have to accept the fact that this is a superior superhero compared to many others which get too much of positive opinions.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Ben Hardy, Josh Helman, Lana Condor, Tómas Lemarquis, Warren Scherer, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, Fraser Aitcheson, Zehra Leverman, Željko Ivanek, Anthony Konechny, Hugh Jackman (Cameo), Bryan Singer (cameo)

xmenapocalypsee

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mockingjay II

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Vampire Owl: So, this is the name of the movie in reality. It was written here on this newspaper as Mocking Hay and I was wondering what it was about.

Vampire Bat: Here, on this other newspaper, it is written as Mockway. It is a more distant spelling. I do wonder what they might have called Goosebumps.

Vampire Owl: It is because of this wrong spelling that we felt that this was a movie which we knew nothing about, and made the choice not to watch it earlier! I don’t understand why they can’t have people who are able to spell this. I am beginning to doubt how they choose the people behind this.

Vampire Bat: They make such mistakes and still we read them. Then, we see that at some other editions of the same newspaper, and even at some other columns of the same, it is correct and then we are made sure that this particular title is another movie. I don’t understand why we are like this, looking at the mistakes, being mislead, understanding that it was too silly a thing and then continuing to read the same newspapers – actually, we even watch the same news channels which we don’t like.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://kiagia.co/index.php/current-film-releases/1200-the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-movie-review

A science-fiction dystopian adventure book from the US author Suzanne Collins was made into a movie in 2012, with Jennifer Lawrence playing the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. This movie adapted from the first book of The Hunger Games series was very successful. With The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire becoming grand success at the box-office, the third book in the series, Mockingjay was divided into two movies. Here we have the second part of the two, and this movie finishes the franchise. There was one movie in the franchise releasing each year from 2012 onwards, and the last three movies of the franchise have all released in the latter half of November.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) continues to be the Mockingjay and the one grand symbol of revolution as the districts unite against President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland). The attack from a brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) did affect her, but she is back there on the warzone with her speeches and charisma only to be shot by a loyalist from District Two. Even though Katniss wishes to kill President Snow herself, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) asks her not to risk her life again, and advices her to remain as the inspiration and the symbol of their defiance. As she is someone who can motivate the crowd with her presence, she agrees to Coin’s idea.

But Katniss is not the one to keep away from her ultimate aim, as she sneaks into an aircraft leaving to join Commander Paylor (Patina Miller) who is planning a huge assault. There, she is told to be part of a squad lead by Boggs (Mahershala Ali) as they have to evade the booby traps or the pods on the streets which are left by game-makers of the Hunger Games. Thus the journey will be more of less like the seventy sixth Hunger Games. They will be joined by Peeta as they are to go through the streets facing the unexpected threats which await them. The Capitol and Snow will think that she is dead, not once but many times, but Mockingjay is not someone who is going to stay dead as the squad keep going towards the big destination.

The problems caused by breaking down one book into two like Harry Potter and Twilight can be seen. The fans will surely prefer this because they can watch more of their favourite franchise. More of Katniss Everdeen will be there for them to see. But as the last book is divided into two, this movie surely has been cursed with a certain amount of drag. This certainly wouldn’t have been there if Mockingjay was just one movie instead of two stretched movies. But there is one advantage that this movie does possess, and it is the ability to finish the franchise in the right way. The finish is all about that climax which has one shot from the bow of the protagonist that determines everything, even though there are some predictable sequences after that.

The second part of Mockingjay is surely ahead of its predecessor because of the quality of the material in the latter part of the book. If you have read the book already, you will feel that this movie is a good adaptation even with the stretched parts. There are some nice conversations to go with the interesting action sequences, even as there is nothing much here to compete with those which we have seen in the first two movies. There are some traces of what was seen in the games earlier, but there is no big combats shown here. The special effects are good, and the dystopian world will once again grab your attention. The weapons as well as the other gadgets will also catch your eyes.

The movie has its touching moments and thrills which are surely present. There is also some reflection of the real effects of war on the common man which is nothing more than destruction and chaos. The lives of the civilians and morality are two things which are used to one’s advantage as shown here. But the movie does end with hope, despite the deaths, and we know this factor as something which was too far away in the previous movies of the franchise. For those who are new to this franchise, they will find themselves in trouble as the movie goes directly into the story, but with some focus, a certain clue about the dystopian idea and some understanding on what this franchise is about, they can still go through this movie.

As it was in the case of the previous movies, Jennifer Lawrence still remains the biggest asset as the Mockingjay. It is a pleasure to watch her as Katniss Everdeen once again, as she does her job with no trouble at all. As expected, she has and handles those best moments of movie; there is one other point which comes with a sudden impact, related to mutant creatures in the sewers – that was a grand one too. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth provide the needed support very well. Maybe, the movie could have finished better without using the epilogue from the book, even though that would be ignoring the faithful fans of the book. Here ends another movie based on another Young Adult Novel, and despite the flaws, it is a good finish to the franchise.

Release date: 27th November 2015 (India); 20th November 2015 (USA)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, Willow Shields, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Gwendoline Christie, Stanley Tucci, Evan Ross, Donald Sutherland, Mahershala Ali, Patina Miller, Stef Dawson, Paula Malcomson, Meta Golding, Wes Chatham, Elden Henson, Michelle Forbes, Omid Abtahi, Misty Ormiston, Kim Ormiston

mockingjayII

@ 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.

The Hunger Games II

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On the predecessor :: The first movie in the franchise was released last year, and I have to say that I was impressed by the same. I shouldn’t feel that there are many people who doesn’t know the story, but I do know a few people who haven’t heard about it. So, it is a story set in the future, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where the world is divided into a rich Capitol which controls things and twelve poor districts. The boys and girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen (One boy and one girl from each district) are forced to take part in the Hunger Games conducted by the Capitol, an annual reality event telecast all around world. The selected youth known as “the tributes” are required to fight till death until there will be only one person remaining alive. Our protagonist is a young lady joined by the male tribute from her same district to be declared winners as they both threaten to commit suicide thus making the games invalid with everyone else dead – the first time when more than one winner is selected. The Capitol as well as the President remains unhappy about it, but covers the action as an act of true love and not a rebellion so that there won’t be the chance of a revolution against the Capitol from the suffering districts.

What is it about? :: Time has passed since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) took the place of her little sister who was chosen by lottery to participate in the games and won it with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) creating a new record and bringing about a certain difference which was not entertained by the authorities. But they have returned home as the unexpected winners. President Coriolanus Snow visits the lady and tells her to prove that her action was based on love rather than defiance, as there are lots of rebellions taking place in districts, thanks to them defying the order to kill each other. But it doesn’t really work well as the winners’ visit to District 11 lets the emotions run high and sparks riots. Snow decides to get this problem finished as he declares the third Quarter Quell, a special version of the Hunger Games held in every twenty five years in which the participants are to be selected from recent winners. Even as Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is selected by lottery with Katniss to participate, Peeta takes his place and both are once again in the game, this time against better opponents.

The defence of The Hunger Games :: The best thing about the movie is that it tells us how ridiculous these reality shows are, and we should rather be ashamed of them for making it “reality” when those who conduct the shows decide who should win. I was shocked at the number of reality shows in India, especially in Malayalam television channels, and they were getting more and more pathetic, except for may be the comedy shows. The word “reality” is the one thing that doesn’t suit them as many unnecessary outside forces work through it. The movie’s take on the other things such as inequality, oppression and the evil of a dystopia is highly effective and moving – its rather direct, I would say with people always told what to do and obey in a world filled with false hope. All of its themes have been portrayed beautifully, bringing our feelings alive for the characters – the oppressed ones. The twist in the end is also pretty nice, and there is found to be nothing missing about it. This movie has also improved in its graphics and there are some better special effects and action in store compared to its predecessor.

Claws of flaw :: The Hunger Games II is too long, and nobody can really defend against that. The movie was also very slow in getting into the action, as the tournament starts only some time after the second half starts. There are occasions when one might thing why this chooses to drag when not needed. The emotional side remains something of lesser power compared to the first despite the characters going through more, and we might not remember this one as we remember the first. The climax is surely inferior to what was there in the predecessor with an end which is too quick, and there is too much of a projection of the leading character which gets repetitive and one is forced to wonder what is there for that. A better game was also expected by the viewers, that is for sure judging from how the people were responding in the theatre. The movie is too much like the first movie, and there is also the absence of that much fun as well as seriousness. But this one remains a force to reckon with, and it can lose only to that force which will come as another sequel, The Hobbit II, and if I am asked more about it, I expect that one to keep this one restricted to one of those corners as shows are concerned.

Performers of the soul :: I had watched Silver Linings Playbook recently, and I was sure about who was going to steal the show once again, yes that is our leading lady, the girl on fire, Jennifer Lawrence. With the intensity of her character and the severe shortage of any good feeling, the life of Katniss is powerfully portrayed, and there are not many characters in a science fiction movie that affects the audience like this, and there are not many actresses who might have done the role so well, so charming in her disturbed state of mind and so strong even in the weakest state, Katniss is a lot more than the ordinary sci-fi hero or heroine, and it is evident that Jennifer Lawrence has indeed awakened Katniss again. Josh Hutcherson isn’t lost in that either, as Peeta deserves a lot, and he makes sure that the characters get what is deserved. Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Philip Hoffman and Donald Sutherland are there with valuable support in a combination of fine performances. Another character I liked was Johanna Mason played by Jena Malone, there was something about that one.

Soul exploration :: The Hunger Games continues as the indirect satire on reality television, and how its winners are determined by those who are at the top. I liked the same in The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso, but on the entertainment side. The evil of dictatorship is also there, and the thing about inequality is even stronger in this second movie of the franchise. The revolution side is also stronger in this one as it starts powerfully right from the beginning of the movie. In a world which is moving more and more towards modernity and its horrible side effects, what we see in the movie gets more and more relevant. There is always pain, suffering, helplessness and oppression – everyone fights more than one battle for survival, and everyone with a mind is a revolutionary, hopefully of the peaceful nature. The power of media and government control becomes more shocking than ever in this movie. As Katniss sacrifices her life to save her sister in the first movie, the sacrifice is done by Peeta this time.

How it finishes :: The newer fiction doesn’t really work well for me when made into movies, the most significant ones being Twilight, The Host and Mortal Instruments – the novels won’t work for me either, but that would spawn another story another day. I am glad that this is another movie which worked, and it is going to make more in the box-office here as the movie of the weekend. The month starts well and hope the year ends well! There are not many more movies to come. It is not really necessary to watch the first movie before Catching Fire, but it might be nice if you do. There are lots of things that is carried over to this movie, but this sequel can still work out alone as the story is concerned – but one will only be happy about having watched the first movie. Lets hope that it will only get better with the next movie in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 as well as its sequel. Let the hunger stay alive, for freedom and equality.

Release date: 6th December 2013 (India); 22nd November 2013 (US)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

The Hunger Games

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As we wait with that patience which would be intolerant in the absence of the movies like Pacific Rim for the arrival of that possible sequel of magnificent wonder and unparalleled inspiration, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and HBO Asia finding it a part of their interest to show its prequel on a number of occasions, it is only a matter of a few micro-seconds when that expected decision is taken to write on this movie which began the adventures of Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire – the beautiful protagonist of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy on screen. The question would remain though, about how much of an impact these movies can create, on those undesirable factors which prevail throughout the current world, even as the movie is set in the future. On my records, this is among the best movies of 2012, sharing the honour for third place with The Cabin in the Woods, but in a perfectly assigned scoring system which I would implement when I came back from the grave, this might come fourth. But isn’t it catchy enough already with its name itself – the games of hunger, or the games for getting rid of hunger, in a future dystopia where inequality thrives with its roots going deep into the soil of human nature? Well, the games would continue in November 2013 and until now, there is this completed game.

A post-apocalyptic situation has lead to the nation of Panem consisting of a wealthy city of Capitol and twelve poor, struggling districts. As a punishment for a past rebellion and riots, each district is forced to provide a boy and a girl as tributes to compete in a virtually created environment in the form of a real world where they would have to struggle for survival, and the last man or woman standing would be rewarded. The tributes are supposed to be between the ages of 12 and 18 and are selected by the lottery method which they called the Reaping. These tournaments of magnificence are called the Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her family come from District 12, a coal-mining district which is incredibly poor and less populated, having not a good record or good chance at the annual games. They struggle to survive in situations of hardship. When her sister Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is chosen to fight till death in her first Reaping, Katniss volunteers to take her place in the games. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a baker’s son, is chosen as the other district tribute. Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol in a luxury train and is provided with high level accommodation and the facilities which would have been unknown to them in their district.

They are accompanied by their mentor and past Games victor, an alcoholic Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). They are informed that they should make them likable enough for the sponsors to send them anything helpful during the match. The find the tributes from Districts 1 and 2 who are trained to win the tournament from the early age itself, and have a big chance of murdering the rest of the participants early. Katniss and Peeta succeeds in making early good impressions with their first public appearance as well as the interviews, and the former does exceedingly well with her archery skills. Peeta’s love for Katniss is also revealed during the period of preparation. About half the tributes are killed in the beginning of the game itself, and Katniss, while on the run forms an alliance with a little girl Rue (Amandla Stenberg) from District 11 as the others come up with their own unholy alliances. After her death, Katniss joins with Peeta and tries to survive with only a few contestants left. This process is affected by a number of interventions by the tournament controllers and their plans to keep the tournament at a level which would be the most favourable.

With no surprises, this is Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, as the whole world is centred around Katniss Everdeen. This is third movie of hers that I had the opportunity to watch, after X-Men: First Class and House at the End of the Street, and doubt me not when I say that I shall also watch Silver Linings Playbook. She has set new standards for the leading character of a movie which is a deathmatch with the rules of the last man standing, something which takes a gamer back to that game mode in Unreal Tournament, and whatever followed as the other first-person shooter computer games. Even with doing nothing spectacular, she keeps her character strong, powerful and attractive. Katniss’ extraordinary display of courage is not only portrayed through her one huge life-changing decision to replace her sister and save her life, but also in her words,from the moment she is chosen as the tribute and her existence was possibly going to be a very short one: “No. You can’t. Not like when dad died. You’re all she has. No matter what you feel, you be there for her, you understand. Don’t cry. Don’t cry”. She traverses around that forest with her bow and a quiver of arrows like Artemis, the Greek Goddess of hunting. Josh Hutcherson progresses in the role of Peeta in the exact same way as the viewer would expect.

Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow delivers those powerful quotes to be remembered: “I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean, if we just wanted to intimidate the districts, why not round up twenty-four at random and execute them all at one? It would be a lot faster. Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it”. This dialogue defines the movie in a scene – what The Hunger Games is all about. As the primary antagonist of the series, and the autocratic ruler of the Capitol and all of Panem, it also defines the character and lest us know what to expect from him in the upcoming movies. There is a lot more to come from him, and one can be sure that some of those moments won’t leave one that easily. Foxface is the female tribute from District 5 played by Jacqueline Emerson is the next interesting character, even as the tribute makes very less impact on the storyline. Alexander Ludwig’s Cato and Isabelle Fuhrman’s Clove makes the skilled and heaviy trained District 2 tributes who work as the major antagonists inside the tournament.

The movie lacks in the intense action sequences and use of good special effects and CGI which could have made this one even better, and the slowness gets a little uninspiring at some moments. But what it losses in its lack of pace, action and effects is gained by some great acting and its own powerful theme. Katniss herself is a symbol of a rebellion for the twelve poor districts against the rich Capitol’s oppression, and even as this movie only begins a procedure, and Katniss has only become the shadow of what she can do later, this is one message against inequality and oppression which the movie has conveyed wonderfully. “War, terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained. And then came the peace, hard fought, sorely won. A people rose up from the ashes and a new era was born. But freedom has a cost. When the traitors were defeated, we swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed, that each year, the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute, one young man and woman, to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage and sacrifice. The lone victor, bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.”

What is said in these lines are the lies that the common man is forced to believe; and as the dictator himself says, it gives them hope which rises over their fear. But this is that fake hope which helps them to rule over the common man and continue to be rich at their cost. The need for rebellion is asserted, as it is the Capitol that rules them all, and it is that one city that has everything, and when the rebellion for their own basic needs is termed as treachery and the people branded traitors. The theme of self-sacrifice is there, as Katniss’ substitutes herself and becomes willing to die for her younger sister, like Jesus did for the atonement of the sins of humanity; Peeta also rises from under the stone, and the symbolism of bread prevails throughout the movie. The human battle for survival, the influence of the media and the need for freedom are also seen throughout the movie. There is the rise of the underdog, a common popular thing, and his defiance which changes the world upto an extent, and will define it further. The movie strikes, and it inspires, and Jennifer Lawrence does the rest. This is one movie which makes you think on many lines, and the most significant thought is defiance. Remember the story of the demi-god Theseus and the Minotaur, in which the Minotaur is fed with a certain number of boys and girls from the city, for there are some cycles which need to stop.

Release date: 23rd March 2012
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, Dayo Okeniyi, Isabelle Fuhrman, Alexander Ludwig, Paula Malcomson, Jacqueline Emerson, Leven Rambin, Dayo Okeniyi, Jack Quaid, Amandla Stenberg, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.