The Green Knight

Vampire Owl: I have read about this particular tale during my graduation.

Vampire Bat: It has not been surprising that all vampires learn BA English Language and Literature, and most probably, also its post graduation.

Vampire Owl: Well, vampires do learn more than they need.

Vampire Bat: Yes, almost all the undead has double post graduation.

Vampire Owl: This film still comes as a surprise though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we were not expecting any more of such movies on Amazon soon.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and with one of those tales from our British Literary History studies.

Vampire Bat: That makes the world feel quite small.

Vampire Owl: Well, you know that is never large enough for a demonic invasion.

Vampire Bat: In that case, there is not enough for the eaters of multiple realms.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of Vagamon special tea].

What is the movie about? :: The setting is in Camelot, the castle and court of the legendary King Arthur (Sean Harris), who has now turned old, and hopes that someone else could take over his place, someone worthy enough, even though there are many knights of the roundtable who could hold that position to take over the country. It was a long time ago that he taken the sword Excalibur out of stone, and claimed his throne with the help of one great sorcerer – but things are not the same again, as there is a certain amount of darkness that had engulfed the country, which seems to continue through the Christmas season which had just started, as the power of the king is at the all-time low. The king’s nephew, Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) have been leading a life of no knight, even though he is supposed to become one very soon. He goes through all the hedonistic activities as he can, and wakes up in a brothel alongside a common woman whom he fell in love with, despite having royal blood running through his veins.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Gawain gets the scolding from his mother due to the same reason, but on one Christmas day, he attends the feast at the great round table of the knights with King Arthur, who gives him a better status, as he is the son of his sister, and a possible choice for the throne at some point of time. It is then that a strange creature in armour, riding a horse comes into the court and talks of a game. Calling itself the Green Knight, the creature tells him that any knight in the court can land a blow on his body and win his green axe, but the same person will have to come to the Green Chapel on the very next Christmas dar, and he will have to receive the exact same kind of blow in return. When the fight begins, the Green Knight gives up, and Gawain comes with a blow so hard that it severs the knight’s head. Then the knight rises and leaves with his severed head, after reminding him of the deal.

And what more is to be done with this adventure related to one green knight? :: Gawain spends the rest of the year merry-making with his common woman love, Essel (Alicia Vikander), but his mother Morgan le Fay (Sarita Choudhury) knows that he has to keep his end of the bargain and face the Green Knight at some point. So, finally when the next year’s Christmas season arrive, he starts his journey towards what seems to be his destiny. During his journey, he comes across a battlefield with dead bodies everywhere, and is ambushed by a group of people who ties him up and steals anything on him that seems valuable. But Gawain manages to get free and go after them. But random robbers on the road won’t be the major problems that he will have to face during this quest. This quest is woven out of magic, and it won’t end like a usual adventure ends for a knight who comes up with random acts of courage and honour. After all, these are the times when knights are always supposed to do better than earlier.

The defence of The Green Knight :: The movie maintains its dark elements really well instead of turning this into a light fantasy as one would expect as far as King Arthur and the related stories are concerned. The dark atmosphere does help in transporting us to an uncertain world of mystery rather than the usual space of certain heroes and villains placed on opposite sides. The setting, especially the landscape is incredibly beautiful, and the same can be said about the buildings around too, as the feeling of a medieval world is nicely recreated – the touch of magic can also be felt in between. One wouldn’t agree if there is a talk about this world not being filled with magic. The background music also adds a lot to this particular world. It had to be so, as any tale related to King Arthur has that feeling in the background. The film works as the coming of age story of a knight, which is nicely portrayed by Dev Patel in what might be among his best roles till now. The rest of the characters are just the path for him towards the final destination.

The claws of flaw :: The Green Knight, as it moves away from the usual fantasy adventure with a knight trying to meet his destiny, the darker side is added, and the same might not be what people might be looking for. The film also drags in between, as we have a certain time period in which nothing much happens, and the same could have been trimmed to make this film shorter. One can feel that there are too many dialogues here, and some of them seem to be pointless – they could have been replaced by some more of action, which is rather difficult to come by in the middle stages. The final moments are also not that strong as one would have expected in the beginning stages. The messages here could have also been clearer, and some elements of coming of age might have looked better if used in a more innovative manner. The opportunities to add more to the tale and expand the same have been many, and here we see no strengthening additions.

How it finishes :: Making a film out of a chivalric romance work of unknown authorship, written in the late fourteenth century, and make it suitable for this age is no easy task, as the same is not a huge adventure with big monsters that appeal to the big screen and the masses. I do remember reading about this work as part of my studies as well as the later teaching process at the college. Well, British Literary History is quite fascinating, and these are some of the earlier works which we go through in the syllabus after that Anglo-Saxon literature being looked at. So, this work is more or less like nostalgia for me. Even if the question papers in this part of the world do not really ask any question related to this one, we are all aware of the tale’s worth, and the same has been reasserted with this film, that seems to have done justice with the original thing. This is certainly not your usual fantasy adventure, and as long as you can look past the same, this will work really well for you.

Release date: 24th September 2021 (Amazon), 27th August 20201 (India)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: David Lowery
Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Erin Kellyman, Barry Keoghan, Atheena Frizzell, Nita Mishra, Tara McDonagh, Helena Browne, Megan Tiernan, Emmet O’Brien

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous English film review here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Midnight Special

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Vampire Owl: Now this one should be more about us.

Vampire Bat: What? I don’t see why!

Vampire Owl: It is midnight special. We are people of the midnight.

Vampire Bat: That was long ago. We are anywhere at any moment of time these days.

Vampire Owl: But what about our attacks during midnight?

Vampire Bat: The special plans are no longer limited to midnight, and there are no attacks.

Vampire Owl: But I do come up with attacks. Even on the last midnight, I scared twenty three people from outside their room’s windows.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but as a whole, we are a peace loving community.

Vampire Owl: Never mind. I will launch my personal attacks with my zombie minions.

Vampire Bat: As long as you keep it not connected to the vampire community, it should be fine.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with potato chips].

What is the movie about? :: Roy Tomlin (Michael Shannon) and his friend, a former state trooper Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are on the run with an eight year old boy named Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher), as alerts keep coming on the television about a missing boy with Roy named as the kidnapper. Roy is revealed to be the father of the boy, but he has been trying to escape from both the government as well as a mysterious and fanatic religious cult, both who have been chasing the group of three. But the group is not willing to stop at any cost, and hopes to get further away from those who wants to capture them. The boy who is extremely photosensitive is protected by them, who are joined by Sarah Tomlin (Kirsten Dunst) who is the boy’s mother who is extremely delighted to see them again, but is not happy with almost the whole country chasing them.

So, what is it really about? :: This fanatic religious cult called The Ranch has been raising Alton for a long time, as he is supposed to be some kind of a saviour for them, who has come after years of prayers from them. Pastor Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepard) will not stop until he has his cult’s messiah back with them, and has sent his people to find the boy. At the same time, Agent Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) finds encoded satellite transmissions in the pastor’s sermons which is supposed to have been found from Alton’s talks, and it has FBI right after them, finding the boy as a threat to the national security. more and more people seems to be after them, with running and hiding becoming rather too difficult for the group. With time running out for them, they decide to keep fighting.

So, what happens next? :: The fact that this special boy even brought one satellite down just because it was tracking them, doesn’t help their case at all. One boy with so much of power seems to be something which the government can’t afford to go free – they surely has more plans for him, as there are more people after him after causing what seemed to be a meteor shower in the form of a destroyed satellite. They are also involved in terrible confrontations with state troopers and don’t get much of help from even their old friend from the cult. As the journey goes on, the boy only gets weaker and weaker. With him seeming to be extremely sick and might even possibly die, there seems not be not many options around other than to give up. But Alton himself has another idea for him, which none of his guardians can agree to. In the end, will they find the secret behind his powers and get him to safety?

The defence of Midnight Special :: There is a different story in store here as this science fiction flick’s divergence works throughout its run. Its specialty should be that it keeps the supernatural at a distance rather than exposing it to us in the beginning itself. It successfully keeps us guessing in the beginning stages as we wonder what this boy is all about, and what big twist is coming up near end. There is something huge going to happen, but we have no idea what it is, and the more we guess, the more we get confused – this one provides that kind of a feeling throughout its stages. The whole movie goes on like some chase, and our protagonists rarely get to stop here or there. The power of visuals are there when they are used to the movie’s advantage, even though that last very less. We are also left with the hope for a sequel in the midst of an emotionally powerful ending that comes as the end is reached, and you know that the drama works towards the end – the finish has its sadness.

The claws of flaw :: Well, Midnight Special is a movie which had the potential to do something better both with its philosophy as well as its content which wanders rather too much on the emotional side, due to which the ending is also not a thrilling one – something which has surely contributed well to its lesser total collection from the theatres. If there was more focus on what was happening rather than diving deep into the emotional side without enough explanations, this one could have done a lot better for the common man as well as those who think. There are mysteries that are not solved, and there are moments which could have been presented in a better way. With some signs of the visual spectacle which it could have been, also there, maybe there was surely the idea to do more, but it was to make itself just a good movie instead of becoming that special movie which was to stay in our minds for a long time.

How it finishes :: One special thing about Midnight Special even when it slows down in pace so much, is that it is a science fiction movie with a stronger human side than many others including Interstellar and Gravity. With Michael Shannon coming up with an emotionally powerful performance, and Kirsten Dunst supporting the same later, we have Joel Edgerton’s character as the most likable, and Jaeden Lieberher does a very good job as the kid too. Despite not everyone liking this movie in this same way considering it as a flick which would depend on the tastes of people to have it loved, one can be sure that Midnight Special will affect its viewers in one way or the other. You will also wish that it was a better movie, but one feels that this is exactly how the makers wanted the movie to work, and in no other way. Take your time and find what can be termed “special” in Midnight Special.

Release date: 18th March 2016
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, Paul Sparks, Nathan Brimmer, Bill Camp, Scott Haze, James DuMont, Billy Slaughter, Sean Bridgers

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Exodus

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Vampire Owl :: No, I have suffered too much with that earlier movie called Noah. No more!

Vampire Bat :: But, I would say that Noah has set such a terrible standard that it will be almost impossible for any other Biblical movie to come under it.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt that. The worst movie in any category is yet to come. There is always disaster in waiting. It is like a werewolf waiting for a full-moon when getting the release date.

Vampire Bat :: I see that your negativity about movies is increasing like your zombie minions’ doubts about your inability to owlify the world.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t understand why you doubt about categorizing Noah as the worst movie of the year. Along with bringing an aversion to Darren Aronofsky, I don’t see any other movie which put Christians, Athiests, Hindus and Muslims in the theatre to sleep with no discrimination. It has done India some favour with reflecting the unity in diversity, but in the end, it is just boredom for everyone, even for the categories with reservation.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, I did see the reaction in the theatre, but as you said, the worst movie list is still open.

Vampire Owl :: I think that you should close the yearly list right now. Now we know what movies to watch each weekend, and I don’t see any other movie coming close to as ridiculous as Noah.

Vampire Bat :: But we are not sure about it yet. There are some differing opinions…

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Exodus anymore. I am going to some place peaceful; like a cemetery, I guess.

Vampire Bat :: I think that it is a pretty good idea.

[Starts the car].

What is it about? :: Ancient Egypt had grown vast and wide beyond the banks of the river Nile, and was going through its best times, but mostly based on the blood and sweat of its Hebrew slaves. As much as the great Egyptian Empire spreads and developed, so much more pressure came on its slaves who continue to suffer more. Under the rule of the Pharaoh Seti I, the empire continues to thrive. There seems to be glorious days which goes on and on. Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) grow up like brothers in the palace even as it is certain the latter shall go on to become the Pharaoh. It is like they do have each other’s back until that realization come upon them one day. The truth that was hidden for long will come to light, and being considered a Hebrew spy won’t do Moses much good. He would soon be banished from his world, but that wouldn’t be the end of him, as God has plans for him and his people as he will liberate them from the yoke of slavery and lead them to the promised land. But what does the Pharaoh say about this?

The defence of Exodus: Gods and Kings :: It is our duty to support the big epic stories on the screen, and in that case, we have an automatic self-defence here. We need our faith, the beliefs of the past to keep us going, and I am sure that Exodus: Gods and Kings will only be a positive factor in the same unlike Noah which came up with so much negativity about the same. This is also a visually stunning movie, unlike any Biblical movie that has come so far, and the splendour and awesomeness of the Ancient Egypt is shown with full strength like never before. The cities, the statues and monuments, the troops, the Pyramids and the location near the Nile – they are all breath-taking. There is a good amount of detail put into all of that. The plagues are also nicely shown on the screen with the visual effectiveness, especially the river of blood and the thunderstorms. The cast also works nicely. There is an effort taken to add some imagination and more realism too, even as not all of it have worked. Still a spectacle is guaranteed on the screen, and God is clearly shown to be on the side of the poor and the powerless.

Claws of flaw :: The inaccuracies are there; yes, there are too many liberties being taken, especially with the portrayal of God (somehow reminding me of Waiting for Godot) and the way in which the plagues appear, rather like intending to connect them in one way or the other to various other factors. There are many moments which got the differences seeming easy to detect here, and the certainty is there about criticizing the same – but nothing really in a bad way (Noah had brought new “bad” or the “terrible”). I won’t list them here as I would continue this one as more secular than religious in nature. I am not an Old Testament expert anyway. The biggest problem after the God depiction is the Red Sea scene which had a lot more scope as a direct miracle with the special effects. The characterization is also incomplete; there is no real effort put into concentrating on Moses as a person, and that affects most of the other characters too – but they are not strangers to the audience, are they? The ending is also not where it should have stopped. The ending was to be after the sea-scene, and this one goes on to stop in the middle of nowhere. There was no point in rushing through things here either.

Performers of the soul :: You know that this is supposed to be depending heavily on Christian Bale who has to keep it going, and it does. He doesn’t fail to deliver yet again, and even when the characterization seems to bring things down, he continues to strengthen things. A special mention is needed for María Valverde who looked lovely and too good for her character, even though having a comparatively minor role which she did to perfection and remains memorable. Joel Edgerton does a commendable job the pharaoh, and he has his moments as much as the protagonist has, plus when they are together, there is even more power on the screen. Sigourney Weaver is limited here in another small role. The rest of the actors playing Hebrew characters pale in comparison to the power of Christian Bale’s Moses, even as Ben Kingsley does seem to have the opportunity to be the next most noticed person there, and Aaron Paul comes after that. But this movie is more Moses’ movie than Noah belongs to its titular character, and so we can understand the limitations of the rest of the cast, except for the antagonist.

How it finishes :: Coming from the disappointment of watching Noah, I wondered about the possibility of this being a good one, but I had more expectations about this movie. Noah had hit the bottom of the movie ocean with its terrible attempts to make something ridiculous out of the void of nonsense created by itself. Despite this movie being better, I do wonder why this couldn’t have been even better, coming from a director like Ridley Scott whose Prometheus had me incredibly interested like Alien and there is no need to talk about Gladiator which is there in almost every poster of this movie with the lines “from the director of Gladiator” becoming its biggest promotion. There was going to be believers and non-believers coming to watch this movie, and it had to use its epic elements to better use to make sure that both were nicely satisfied, and this one just makes the touch instead of grabbing and using its available elements. One has to admit that it is still with enough strength to survive though, and when it gets weak, we remember the pathetic and boring experience which was Noah, and we get happier. This time, the one whom I ask to accompany me won’t feel the need to shoot me on the head.

A look into the status :: Exodus: Gods and Kings releases in India a week before it does in the United States – well, you know that it is usually the other way around; with rare exceptions like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You know about the recent ones The Equalizer and John Wick coming late here too. Now that is a twist of events, and it is a good thing as it won’t collide with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies next week, followed by Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and then Into the Woods on the Christmas weekend, even as I am doubtful about the last movie’s fate here. Now you know the schedule for every weekend of December – these are the four movies which we have this month, and with one gone, there are three more to go, among which I hope that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will go on to become the second highest grosser of the year if not the first, as far as it doesn’t go The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 way and doesn’t make that much of an impact. For now, Exodus: Gods and Kings has fertile grounds in the theatre, with not much of a challenge, and hope it makes good use of this advantage.

Release date: 5th December 2014 (India); 12th December 2014 (USA)
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, María Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, Indira Varma, John Turturro, Hiam Abbass, Kevork Malikyan, Anton Alexander, Golshifteh Farahani, Tara Fitzgerald, Ben Mendelsohn, Dar Salim

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.