Beyond Skyline

Vampire Owl :: What do you think awaits us beyond the skyline?

Vampire Bat :: The aliens. We know that from the first movie.

Vampire Owl :: Well, those creatures didn’t gain that much of a positive opinion that time.

Vampire Bat :: You know that all movies can’t be Alien Covenant or Prometheus.

Vampire Owl :: But movies certainly can be something in between them.

Vampire Bat :: An alien movie can still just be one, and not try for more.

Vampire Owl :: It is more or less like meeting the minimum requirements.

Vampire Bat :: Well, the minimum requirement for an alien movie is to have aliens.

Vampire Owl :: The need is more for having an alien invasion.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, that surely works better in most cases.

[Gets three cups of tea with paneer puffs].

A flashback to the first movie :: The first movie told the story of Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) who had flown to Los Angeles for Jarrod’s best friend Terry’s (Donald Faison) birthday party. Celebrating with Terry’s wife, Candice (Brittany Daniel), and his assistant, Denise (Crystal Reed), blue lights came down from the sky, hypnotizing anyone who looks at them, and the same had them immobilized as if they were zombies to be easily collected by the machines from the sky emitting the lights. After a series of events and attempts at survival, Jarrod and Elaine were sucked into the ship too. Inside the alien spacecraft, she saw that human brains were taken into machines to power them. Jarrod’s brain, inserted into a new alien body, gained control of the body instead of working otherwise, and came to the aid of a pregnant Elaine and their unborn child. This was were the first movie ended.

What is the movie about this time? :: Mark Corley (Frank Grillo), a police officer, gets his son, Trent Corley (Jonny Weston), out of the prison after he gets into trouble again. The two seems to be sorting things out in the underground metro when something strange seems to happen. It is then, at the same time that the alien invasion takes place. One after the other, people are mind-controlled and taken into their spaceships by the aliens. They seem to escape, but after a tactical nuclear attack by the aliens, Mark, Trent, a transit worker named Audrey (Bojana Novakovic) and a blind homeless man named Sarge (Antonio Fargas) are all taken by the aliens into their spaceship. The machines inside the spaceship seems to work hard with taking the brains out from the survivors, and Mark goes on searching for son, while being hunted by the creatures all around.

So what happens next with this tale of alien invasion? :: Going further into the ship’s closed area, he meets Elaine and her transformed boyfriend Jarrod from the first movie. It seems that even though Elaine is just three months pregnant, her pregnancy has reached its end as she gives birth to a daughter while she dies. Now, the destruction of the spaceship becomes the priority. As Jarrod fights the alien creatures, Mark rescues Audrey while Trent’s brain is taken and Sarge dies. Jarrod is killed when he fights the alien leader, but successfully crashes the ship in the forest area of Laos. There, Mark and Audrey with the child comes across Sua (Iko Uwais) and his sister Kanya (Pamelyn Chee), who are escaping from both aliens and local military men who are trying to take advantage of the situation. They take them to an underground lair full of survivors, and there they find out that this kid might be the key to their survival against aliens.

The defence of Beyond Skyline :: The visuals are good; they are not perfect as a big budget alien movie, but they are nice to watch. The creatures remind us of Predators, and the insides of the spaceship looks better than the outside. Some good action sequences are also there, and the final battle is nicely done. The cast is one big positive of this movie, as the man who played one of the villains in Marvel Universe, was Crossbones in Captain America: Civil War, and the one who was the spine of The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year is at the top of the game here too. We saw that he could go through that action thriller with ease, and this is no different. Bojana Novakovic whom we had seen in The Devil, is not that far away here either. She is part of the action early itself.

The claws of flaw :: There is too much repetition in here, and there is no attempt to add something new here. The aliens could have had further detail, and something special could have added with an origin story. Some moments don’t really have the seriousness that they deserve, and there is a little bit more violence and gore than one would expect from a usual alien invasion movie. The energy as well as the feeling of danger and fear that an alien movie should display, is not always there either. It could have ended differently though, as the final scene predicting the next part seems to too usual – can’t people come up with something other than this to end a movie? Well, the plan seems to be to keep close to the usual alien stuff a little too much – it is surely the safer thing to do, but the question remains if we really need more and more movies doing the same?

How it finishes :: As a science fiction movie, Beyond Skyline will not contribute much to the scientific side or bring that much of a variety, but it is surely an improvement from its predecessor. We have better cast as well as a lot more action with this flick. It is that kind of a movie which provides you with a chance to use your willing suspension of disbelief again, and along with the same, it just keeps within the limit without going absurd. You might be able to find those bigger alien movies at higher budgets, but this one is not short of its fun and entertainment, with its aliens knowing where to head to, just like its humans. Maybe, with another movie in the franchise with higher budgets, we can have a lot more. It is what Beyond Skyline is about, to be bring the fun in between, with the resources that it possesses, never stepping back with the entertaining side.

Release date: 15th December 2017
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Liam O’Donnell
Starring: Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Callan Mulvey, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Pamelyn Chee, Betty Gabriel, Antonio Fargas, Lindsey Morgan, Valentine Payen, Samantha Jean, Jacob Vargas, Jonny Weston, Joanne Baron, Karen Glave, Tony Black

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Allegiant

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Vampire Owl :: We haven’t really managed to build our own dystopia yet.

Vampire Bat :: But why are you looking for a dystopia when it could be an utopia?

Vampire Owl :: Dystopia is the more stylish thing. Utopia is not something that much interesting for our kind.

Vampire Bat :: It is more due to your choice of movies.

Vampire Owl :: I have been choosing the right movies. You know, dystopia is the dream of every known vampire.

Vampire Bat :: That only proves that you know just a few vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I know more than you think I know. It is why I am the one true Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: Can you not think about the dystopia and watch this movie?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, just like I did for The Hunger Games. But a part of my mind is fixed on dystopia.

Vampire Bat :: Here we go again.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of tea].

What is it about in the first movie? :: The first part of this tale is set in the future, at the city of Chicago with the world being safely restricted inside walls. The society is divided into five factions, each standing for a quality, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were called the Divergents, and had to live a life without hope. Beatrice Prior a.k.a. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is one of them, but after managing to hide that information, she chooses the faction of Dauntless. During her time at the faction, she slows makes her way to the top after seeming like an underdog, and a good number of secrets are revealed in the process. There she destroys the plans of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) looking forward to take over.

How does the story go in the second movie? :: Jeanine Matthews, despite being stopped by Tris, doesn’t back away from her plans as an artifact box with the symbols of all factions is found. She feels the need to open the box, as it is believed to have the messages from the creators of the city. But opening of this particular box can only be done by a very strong Divergent who is able to go through the challenges of all four factions. As expected, Tris is the one to open the box after passing all the tests, and the message calls the Divergents the result of a successful experiment and calls them to return to the humanity that waits outside the walls. Jeanine is murdered, and lots of speculations go on about what awaits them outside the walls, as nobody has an idea about how it all got to the present situation.

So, what is this third movie about? :: The curiosity about what awaits outside the walls catches the interest of many people, but the soldiers under Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts) blocks all the paths that lead outside. The trials for their enemies is conducted by Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), but most of them become just executions. Tris and Four (Theo James) are not that interested in the happenings there, and escapes from inside the walls with Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to find out what is actually outside. There they find out just wastelands coloured red, and even the rain drops feel like drops of blood. But soon, they discover a group of people, who are technologically advanced. Lead by David (Jeff Daniels), they tell a story, but there is that question about how truthful these newfound allies are.

The defence of Allegiant :: One can safely say that this movie is an improvement from its predecessor, Insurgent, even though surely not as good as the first movie, Divergent. Based on the first half of the last book from the Divergent series from Veronica Roth, there is a fine setting for the interesting final movie which is to come. The visuals are pretty much interesting, and the world surely looks good. The action sequences get better here, and story is also an improvement from its predecessor which had spent too much time around a box. This one also has a rather positive progress of things, and comes to a happy finish even though that would have surely seen near impossible at some point. The lead actors are solid, and the romance between the leads is also something that works. The message is also on the positive side, and there should be something to take home for many.

Claws of flaw :: There is trouble in the acting department here and there, and not all special effects are that interesting to the eye. There are parts of this world which could have looked better in another way, and a number of dialogues could have also been better constructed in a more serious manner. This is also nothing like The Hunger Games which has actually proven to be the better dystopian flick with almost every book and movie. There are times when we feel that this one shouldn’t have been split into two movies, as there was better scope to be further rich in content here. There was surely the chance to be real “divergent” for this movie, but that is not really utilized, with situations going predictable on many occasions, and the tension being built not that much used to the advantage – a well-known path is followed more than any other in this case.

How it finishes :: This one does manages to keep one interested with its world, and the incidents that keep happening. The three people who make the biggest impact here though, are Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Naomi Watts. With the idea already there, and with this dystopian setting so well used in other movie, this one could have done even better; but with what all it possesses, it does make a pretty good watch. This is the kind of world which has the ability to get interested in it again and again, even though you have said no to the same thing earlier. We can only wait and see how well this one has finished to set path for the final movie in the series, as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, is to be released on June 9, 2017. With lesser box-office collections for this movie, lets see how things turn out for the final one.

Release date: 18th March 2016
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Nadia Hilker, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Bill Skarsgård, Daniel Dae Kim, Mekhi Phifer, Xander Berkeley, Jonny Weston, Keiynan Lonsdale, Anna Stevenson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insurgent

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A Flashback to Divergent :: I have noticed a number of people in the theatre being clueless about this, and therefore, lets take a flashback ride to the first movie. You can choose to skip this paragraph if you needn’t. In Divergent, within a future post-apocalyptic world of dysopian nature, the known human society is divided into five different factions according to the qualities of each person: they are Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the intelligent). There are tests done for the same and those who don’t fit into the factions or the Divergents are left with no part in the society. But one young lady called Beatrice Prior will join Dauntless despite being a Divergent, and will go on to stop the faction Erudite and its leader Jeanine Matthews’ attempt to take over as the leader of them all.

What is it about? :: Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) continues her hunt for power, as she finds an artifact box with the symbols of all factions. She needs to open it as the box is believed to have a message from the founders of the city, and she hopes that it can solve the problems of the Divergents restoring the remaining factions with her as the leader. But only a strong Divergent can open it as the procedure involves going through the simulation which includes the challenges of all the factions. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are on the run, but Jeanine’s team reaches them – they separate as Tris and Four leave for Candor after going through the Factionless which is lead by Four’s mother Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts). But things surely seem to be heading for a war.

The defence of The Divergent Series: Insurgent :: The idea has already been set, and so Insurgent has it easy to work with. The detail of the environment is very good, and it is good to watch he dystopian world in 3D. The special effects never cease to catch our attention in this movie. The action sequences remain interesting, and the audience only end up asking for more of the same. The idea of being Divergent is taken to another level, and there is twist at the ending which leaves us hoping for more in the sequel – hope the next movie delivers a lot more. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 will get released next year and The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2 in 2017, and lets hope that this works very well as there seems to be something big coming, as the impression has been made.

The Claws of Flaw :: Insurgent is a step backward from Divergent, and it is not divergent in its treatment of the subject. It doesn’t go on to establish itself as a special dystopian movie as we had expected with the ending of the first movie. The first one had established the world, but this one actually has almost nothing related to a dystopia which is provided directly and we are left to pick up a few things here and there. The message is not that powerful here with the divergence and the society. Instead, this movie tries to hold on to predictability and last minute escapes. The movie should have dared to go outside what it has established and could have brought more here. Instead, the movie manages to go on and on with the idea that we already have. There is no real attempt to change the society in a big way other than trying to bring the dictator down. Divergents are also just declared special!

Performers of the soul :: It can be safely said that it is Shailene Woodley who saves this movie from going further down its level. She has given her best here, carrying this movie forward as the Divergent protagonist. She has only made things better here, and she is the one who provides this movie with any opportunity to match up-to its predecessor even though Insurgent doesn’t end up doing so. Among the new additions to the movie, Naomi Watts stays ahead of the others, as is very much convincing and interesting. Theo James just manages to be okay playing the support. Ansel Elgort has a forgettable outing there as the strange brother character. Kate Winslet manages to be just an okay villain while Miles Teller is very good here.

Soul exploration :: Just like its predecessor, this movie also focuses on what it takes to be different or divergent, and focuses on the journey that occurs due to not agreeing to the norms of the society. In a world where moving away from the accepted norms of the society is a crime, one heroine continues to rise. This divergence leads to revolution and a change of order. Identities change here, and being smart comes with the extreme desire to rule over the others, which the intelligent faction in the movie displays. They are the masters of science and cannot stand someone else who is better than them, just like the Divergents who are good in more than one skill, and from their jealousy, the movie moves forward to the next level.

How it finishes :: The movie is based on the book of the same name, which is the second book in the much talked about Divergent trilogy written by Veronica Roth, even though the fans here seems to be lesser in number. The first one was an interesting movie itself, and the second one nicely follows the path which was set up by its prequel without doing anything special, which makes Divergent the better movie without doubt. This actually became the first Hollywood movie I watched this month, and may be the only one of its kind which I managed to review. Yes, my movie watching adventures have been decreasing, thanks to the censor board banning movies, and some of them not even making all the way here. There are also personal reasons, but I am going to find time for the same here and there as long as the bans and the selections of movies by the theatres make more sense.

Release date: 20th March 2015
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Mekhi Phifer, Ashley Judd, Daniel Dae Kim, Keiynan Lonsdale, Suki Waterhouse, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony, Janet McTeer, Jonny Weston

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Taken 3

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Uncle Dracula :: So do you believe that the Vampire Owl was taken?

Vampire Bat :: I didn’t say that. I was talking about him not going for movies, and not being available for consideration even for watching the movie Taken 3.

Uncle Dracula :: But he could have been taken, nevertheless.

Vampire Bat :: Why are we even having this conversation?

Uncle Dracula :: Because I am giving you a substitute for the Vampire Owl here. Take Igor.

Vampire Bat :: What? Wasn’t he with Doctor Frankenstein?

Uncle Dracula :: Yes, but he was taken. You didn’t know? Even my brides know that.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, they will surely know that, because they have no other job. They don’t even brush their fangs. But taken by whom?

Uncle Dracula :: Taken by me. Who else? I am the only Bryan Mills around here. Now, take my new vampire chariot and leave. You are getting late and there is a chance that you might be taken by Doctor Frankenstein in retaliation.

Vampire Bat :: That is a fair point. And you stop abducting people after transforming into fog, mist, wolves, dogs, potato chips, Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Titanic DVD and all those other things. The age is different now. It is not cool anymore.

[Kick-starts the vampire chariot].

What is it about? :: The two major incidents seem to have cooled down, and nobody seems to be “taken” anymore. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is once again trying to be good with his daughter Kim Mills (Maggie Grace) who is now living with her boyfriend and his ex-wife Lenore Mills (Famke Janssen) who is having problems with her current husband, Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott). But things get turned around as his wife is found murdered, and when he enters the house, he is framed for the murder. As he becomes the prime suspect here due to the evidence, he manages to flee from the scene using his special skills and uses the same to find a way to get to her murderer. The police is on his trail and asks him to surrender and let them investigate, leaving it for the court to decide, but Bryan knows that he can trust his skills better than anything else. Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) is in charge of the case and decides to go after Bryan.

The defence of Taken 3 :: You know what to expect in a sequel to the kind of movies that the predecessors were. Even with a change in the basic plot as nobody is “taken”, this one tries to use the same protagonist to its advantage nicely. Yes, it chooses not to follow that idea and comes up with something different, even as it is not something which hasn’t been tried before. The action sequences involving our protagonist are once again good, even as not raising the level. This is also more of the action movie than thriller, even as some suspense is there trying to make smaller impacts. The stunts mostly involve some melee combat, more shoot-outs and a lot more car chase action. The fans might still love this one up-to an extent, and too much expectation will kill this one. Yes, the franchise ends here, and may be that will also work in favour of this in your mind, even as one his the last dialogues might make one feel otherwise.

The claws of flaw:: Taken 3 fails to give a great ending to the franchise which has to be satisfied with the average finish compared to how it has been going. There is no coming anywhere near the first movie, that is for sure. A comparison with the predecessors is going to devastate this movie, and the place of this one is below the previous two. This is not even that well edited, or even developed as something that brings the thrills to the viewers. It even hesitates to go full swing action, and one has to wonder why. The final scenes also lack the power, and the villains as well as the gang remains not just weak, but also uninteresting. Even the twist could have used more power. It needed more action and thrills, but Taken 3 tries to hang on to the power of the previous movies and bring this franchise to an end which neither Liam Neeson or the audience deserved. After watching this one, may be you will feel that this should have been a movie out of Taken franchise – like Non-Stop, Unknown and The Grey.

Performers of the soul :: You see a Liam Neeson movie here again, and he takes the avatar of one of his best known characters, even as I don’t consider his characters in Non-Stop, The Grey and Unknown with any less reverence – same goes to Hannibal of The A-Team. Being the action hero that everyone wants to see beating up the bad people, he once again doesn’t fail to deliver. There are signs of old age for sure, but he still got it as the man who got the special skills that he acquired. Here, he is bigger than the movie – no doubt about that. You know that Famke Janssen’s character gets killed early, but Maggie Grace is once again very good, but is left with not that much to do in this movie. Forest Whitaker was impressive during his stay, but the villains were too weak. The Russian villain idea never really came close to working, and the other villain twist was another weak addition. There could have been better ideas about it, but we find none here.

Soul exploration :: Taken 3 has its heart at the family, and once again the father-daughter relationship gets a good chance in the middle. But if it was given better thoughts or at least shown with more humour, that would have actually worked in favour of this movie, considering how much this movie has struggled to keep up with its predecessors. Even in what has made this franchise such a big name, this one struggles to make the expected impact. I have actually heard my friends saying “does this guy’s family still have members who are to be kidnapped? How big a family is that?” – when they heard about the release of a third movie. Taken 3 is more like The Hangover III considering the fact that it had no hangover as this one had nobody being taken, but the after-effects of the earlier hangovers and those abductions in the earlier movies still stay.

How it finishes :: Taken 3 doesn’t seem to make much impact in the theatres, even as the initial crowd is there due to the fame of the previous movies, and it is only a matter of time until the advantage is lost. There is a long list of Hollywood movies from the previous weeks though, like Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, Interstellar, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Penguins of Madagascar along with the other language movies, all of them with better opinions received than this one. The advice here would be not to go for Taken 3 with the expectation of another Taken. Think about it as another action movie coming from Liam Neeson, and the characters as just the reflections of the situation in the flick. Watch this one for Liam Neeson, and think not much about the franchise or the rest of the things.

Release date: 9th January 2015.
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker, Dougray Scott, Sam Spruell, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, Jonny Weston, Dylan Bruno

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.