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

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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.

Journey 2

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What is Journey 2: The Mysterious Island? :: It is a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth which had Brendan Fraser in the lead with the comparatively less known Anita Briem along with Josh Hutcherson. It was based on the nineteenth-century novel of the same name by Jules Verne and had great special effects and CGI which could have been great in 3D or may be 4D. I couldn’t watch that one in 3D, but did manage to watch its sequel in its full power, and managed to watch it so many more times on television, thanks to Star Movies, or was it HBO? This sequel is based on another Jules Verne novel, this time The Mysterious Island. Well, who better than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to replace Brendan Fraser? Both are my favourite actors indeed, and that makes this a special series for me, and I have to say that I liked the sequel better than the original, just by a slight margin. Michael Caine and Vanessa Hudgens are two great additions to the franchise.

The Setting :: The movie is loosely based on the novel, which I had read in its abridged form long ago. This version of the original classic has a grown-up Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson), years after the incident which involved his journey to the centre of the Earth with his uncle Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser). Just like Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne is the guide in the first movie, Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island is the guide this time. The journey continues to be personal, and through the new world, they will find new relationships and also strengthens what all were weak and struggling. There is a lot of potential for using the best CGI and all the special effects, and with the movie being released in 3D, there is a lot in store for the viewers here, even as the chance to watch it on the big screen has disappeared. It should still look pretty nice with a good cable connection and an LED television.

What is it about? :: Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is back in action, as he tries to find his lost grandfather Alexander Anderson (Michael Caine) this time. With the help of his stepfather Hank Parsons (Dwayne Johnson), he deciphers the code which is supposed to have been sent by the grandfather even as he doesn’t get along with Hank much to the dismay of his mother Elizabeth (Kristin Davis). The stepfather and the son travel together to Palau according to the codes. There they assigns a helicopter guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) who agrees to take them to the dangerous island for three thousand United States dollars. The helicopter is caught in a storm and they crash into the island. There they encounter strange animals until coming up against a giant lizard, from which the grandfather saves them. Now the question remains if they can get out of the island which is going to sink in two days. In the process, they will have to get the aid or avoid a good number of creatures.

The defence of Journey 2 :: The movie’s best advantage is its graphics, as it has created an outstanding 3D world which clearly makes a point that it is indeed a mysterious island, and not of this world, nor connected to any logical or scientific factors of modernity. It is indeed funnier, and has more beautiful world compared to the original. It is an adventure which is friendly enough for all ages, and therefore clearly suitable for family viewing. The movie’s theme of family is mostly worked out well too, with the father-son, father-daughter bonding often working quite well in the background. There are a few impressive dialogues which they drop in here and there. There is a very well created chase scene involving giant bees and huge birds, as well as nice sequences involving the sinking of an island and a submarine which all look beautiful in 3D. It can boast of a strong 3D adventure inside it, supported by a literary work which brings in nostalgia to the mind.

The claws of flaw :: The movies similarities to the original novel as well as its connection to its predecessor are limited. There is your typical lack of logic, but it is covered by the background book as well as the brilliant special effects in 3D which takes you to another world. There is no contribution from a horror side, but simple, non-threatening world, and that often adds to the better impression it creates for families. It might also have a little bit of emptiness in it considering such a marvelous world it created and how it has brought up so much less and ended in just one and half hours. We watched it on the same day as Agneepath, which meant that this felt much shorter, especially considering how much of a pathetic and long movie the Hritik Roshan starrer Bollywood movie was – it was the worst movie of 2012 indeed, and thanks to The Rock and his team that the day was saved and I didn’t watch many Hindi movies after that in the year.

Performers of the Soul :: Josh Hutcherson has his moments, especially with Vanessa Hudgens, but The Rock steals the show, just like he does in any wrestling ring. I would be surprised if there is a good number of people who won’t watch the movie just for the man. Yes, you have to love him – he sings “What a Wonderful World” and also teaches his stepson something on how to get the attention of the lady; the man scores with the funny moments really well, even as the muscles come to donate a lot to the score quite often. When Dwayne Johnson is not scoring, it is Michael Caine who takes the lead only to lose it to the magnificent screen presence of the former WWE champion, one of the most popular Wrestling superstars ever. Vanessa Hudgens is there for the looks, and her cute and charming presence catches your attention if not the beauty and the clothing. She never looked better – no not even in Springbreakers; that was too much of a gorgeous side. Kristin Davis has very little to do, that too in the real world, while Luis Guzman is quite funny throughout.

How it finishes :: The movie works mainly due to Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine, and no surprises there. The movie is a fine mix of everything good and nothing unworthy of the family audience. It is not a classic movie which can justify the book on which it is based, but an entity which is of visual splendor, unlimited fun and awesome actors. There is absolutely no human character in the movie that you won’t like, and there is no real villain even in the form a creature of the mysterious island. It has taken out everything bad or evil from its core, and has filled it with more and more good and sweet things. Jules Verne won’t complaint about this though, neither will the authors of Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels – this indeed saves the world from the less interesting adaptation of the latter which was released in 2010. You can catch this one very often in the English movie channels; its quite a frequent visitor to the television, and if you have missed this one, you haven’t really been checking the channels enough.

Release date: 10th February 2012
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Michael Caine, Luis Guzman, Kristin Davis

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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.

Epic

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Epic is said to be based on William Joyce’s book for children, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. It is produced by Blue Sky Studios, the makers of the Ice Age series, Robots, Horton Hears a Who! and Rio. It is directed by Chris Wedge who was the director of Ice Age and Robots. The movie shows the battle in the woods between the forces of good and evil, to know if life or decay, whichever overcomes the other. The most interesting thing is that as their world is saved, ours is saved too. As the will premiere in the United States only on May 24th 2013, we know that this has come here early. It should be because it might collide with Fast & Furious 6 otherwise, but there is also another thing about it. It is not of logic, but of impulse, that is the pollution of the natural environment which is a serious challenge in this part of the world. Remember these lines from The Matrix – they are not to be forgotten as the movie ends; “Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure”. The truth in these words are not to be considered unseen before we move into this movie.

When Epic begins, we understand that there is a battle between good and evil, life and decay, green woods and the dark woods, the right and wrong going on in the forest. The two sides are always inter-locked in a never-ending battle for supremacy, one for keeping the balance of nature and the other to extend their borders and make their side weigh more. But they exist invisible to the normal human eye. The forest world is actually preparing for a great moment, the selection of the successor to the queen of the woods, which is looked at with anger and hatred by the forces of evil who wishes or a dark prince instead, who can change the green woods into dark woods, with darkness all around. In the middle of all these, young girl named Mary Katherine (preferring to be called M.K), visits her father Professor Bomba who lives in an old house near some thick woods with his dog, Ozzie and never ending hope of finding a group of little elf-like warriors who live in the woods and protect their world as well as that of humans as the guardians of the good – represented by leaves. He has cameras set everywhere in the woods and also wanders around a lot, hoping to find them some day. It is evident that it has been a long time since he had any contact with the outside world. He is too busy with his job and neglects his daughter just like he had done to his wife years earlier, leading to Mary putting a note for him to see and leaving the place as she feels she will never get her father back to normal life.

As she is leaving, Ozzie finds a chance to go out of the monotonous world which is the house, and runs into the woods. Mary goes into the woods to look out for him, but as she catches one of the glowing leaves which seemed to fall from the sky, she suddenly shrinks in size. Then she discovers the group of warriors her father was looking out for, and find them as the Leafmen. To her surprise, she is soon forced to assist them in a war against the forces of evil known as the Boggans and their powerful leader Mandrake, along with trying to find a way to become big again as well as to return home. The situation is such that the queen of the woods has been murdered and to find the successor who planned by her before death, Mary and her friends, who include a slug, a snail, and two leafmen – one being the leader of the leafmen and the other being the aggressive and arrogant rookie, have to see the keeper of the scrolls, and with his advice, go on to find the new queen from among the flowers and leaves of the woods. But Mandrake is filled with anger and vengeance due to the death of his son by the leaf-men commander Ronin, and would stop at nothing other than a forest without life. He has already transformed a good part of the woods into his world of death and decay. The team has to fight an almost impossible battle in an enchanted world which seems to belong to the dark forces now.

The movie is a journey, just like The Croods, just four minutes longer and surely intellectually superior, still trailing in the 3D effects and the funny side. But emotionally, this one is as strong as the Colossus. Its social message of saving the trees and forest works for sure. This also another Alice in Wonderland, as the girl is thrown into another mysterious world, a land of magic; but this time, it is too connected with the external world. In that case, Arthur and the Minimoys a.k.a Arthur and the Invisibles might come into the picture in pictures of connected worlds, one a miniature place and the other, what we all live in. It is quite surprising that it was a movie which didn’t get that much an attention here. But, we know that little elf-like warriors, magical woods, fairy queens and a young girl or boy changing fate and destiny of two worlds are not exactly new concepts and with the high predictability might be a little let down. A background story on the good and evil might have given a little more support in the matter, but the two sides have already been painted black and white, evil and good; as this is more a fairy tale thing, there will be no questions asked either. But the world we live in has turned into more of the world of the grey, which is slightly more interested in evil, and it could affect the progress of this movie.

The alignment here is too obvious, unlike Age of Wonders, the game in which I first realized the importance of being aligned more or less to one side or being equi-distant from all. Highmen and Archons were pure good out there, Dwarves, Elves, Halflings and Syrons were good, Frostlings, Humans, Azracs, Lizardmen, Draconians, Tigrans and Nomads were the neutral ones, evil had Orcs, Goblins, Dark Elves and Shadow Demons and those of pure evil were called the Undead. Such was the division in that game series, and what we see is more of pure good and pure evil in this movie, and there is no further division. All these fairy tale characters seem to be good enough to make a powerful comeback these days, as the animated movies seems to be working better than the live-action usual thing, even as it is limited to Hollywood. Our movie here is strong enough to pave the way for the next animated ones which are to come, but there are times when some of these supposed to be pure good characters do nothing good; they can’t even preach well enough – at least that might have been expected of them. But the lost fun is recaptured by the main characters who make up for the less important ones. The 3D looks a little unnecessary, and here it was just another reason to take twenty five Rupees extra and increase the total time spent in the theatre.

Well, who doesn’t like a fairy tale though? One has to think that the kids would surely love it, even as the new generation has moved more to the video games and other stuff than books. Still, understanding them as movies is just a bonus for them. Here, the punch is solid and striking deep enough both on the brain and the heart. Its loyality to the genre can never be questioned, but a certain signs of evolution in the fantasy world is not to be ignored at any moment. Despite its loss in the 3D, it still has great visuals and wonderful CGI. The fairy tale of the girl who becomes lost in the forest and shortened by magic, uncovers a mysterious world of little people with its base on the enchanted woods. But other than being another Alice in a different wonderland of inferior quality, considering the way in which the movie progresses, supported by its stunning imagery & the “save environment” message, this becomes much better. It is surely going to appeal not only to kids, but also the adults. This is kind of a vacation season around, and this summer, this might be the right movie to watch as a family. Well, the woods grow over many years, but can be destroyed in a day – a message to the future generation. As the leafman says “We are individuals, but we are all connected”. There is a message for our selfish world; the world of humans who interrupt and cause devastation on nature. FernGully: The Last Rainforest might have already taught a few lessons though, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax surely succeeded in inspiring more than one person.

We have the major issues with water pollution, mostly due to untreated and illegal sewage disposal; we have another big issue as air pollution with vehicle emission and traffic congestion, and not to forget the disposal of garbage on land. The disasters should be much more than these, and the deterioration of the environment the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife, something which starts basically from deforestation. There is no solution to greed for sure, and Agent Smith was partially right, and we are still trying to prove him completely correct. Well, that dialogue was a point when he had the sure upperhand in a world of reason. Extinction is not a limited thing for sure. Looking into Avatar, there is one particular dialogue “There’s no green there. They killed their Mother, and they’re gonna do the same here”. It doesn’t imply anything other than the destruction of the world of green by using their so called advanced technology. As most of the new discoveries have made life easier for man, they have surely made decay easier for nature. This predicament has another nemesis in Epic, as the movie comes against it strongly; it might be a little ordinary and quite predictable in its plot, but is still an inspiring story with a powerful message against the exploitation of nature and deforestation. There is the need for such movies with strong environmental theme.

Release date: 17th May 2013
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Chris Wedge
Starring (voice): Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd

epic copy


@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.