Aquaman

What is the movie about? :: A lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) comes up against Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), who is the princess of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis which had sunk under the Atlantic Ocean on one eventful day of ambition and hubris. He saves the injured princess and they fall in love. The unexpected sequence of events lead to the birth of Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa) who shows the ability to communicate with marine lifeforms, and it is only one of his special skills. With the attack of the troops of Atlantis threatening her family’s life, she decides to go back to the city, hoping to come back on another day when the situation gets better. An Atlantean Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe) is assigned to train Arthur as he grows up.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Back to the events after the incidents of Justice League, the invasion of Steppenwolf had made Arthur further part of saving the world as Aquaman, a name with which he has been referred to by the media. He comes up against the pirate David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) and his team while the group was trying to hijack a nuclear submarine – Arthur ends up defeating them, and leaves David’s father dead in the process, for which the young pirate wants revenge. Meanwhile, Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s younger half-brother and Atlantis’ king wants to begin a war against the people on the surface, as revenge against polluting ocean and causing the death of many creatures of the seas. Using an attack by David as the immediate cause, he seeks the support of the rest of the underwater kingdoms to go on war.

And what else is to follow here? :: He easily gets the support of Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), another king under the sea, and looks forward for more. The daughter of Nereus, Mera (Amber Heard) supports Arthur to become the king as the rightful heir to the crown. But at the same time, Orm wishes to get rid of Arthur, who is the first-born of the queen and therefore has a claim to the throne of Atlantis. Despite Orm sending huge tidal waves all around the world, the surface world remains ignorant about what lies beneath. Mera convinces Arthur to try and save both worlds and he agrees. But the fact remains that Arthur doesn’t have much of a chance against the power that Orm holds on his way to becoming the Ocean Master. But there might be one chance – the question remains if he can take it.

The defence of Aquaman :: One can appreciate Aquaman for its great fight sequences and stunning visuals more than anything else. It becomes a spectacle easily with these, and we just love to keep watching without taking eyes away at any moment. The visuals under the sea has all those fights happening underwater too. We have so many things to add to this visual extravaganza. Atlantis itself is a beautiful sight, and we see that even the people and their costumes are nice. There is a lot of world detail around here. The locations on the surface are also nicely chosen. The fight scene in Sicily is glorious, and the final combat is great to watch. There is also the allusion to the tale of the legendary British king Arthur, and the other reminder is related to Thor: Ragnarok which had the hero from Norse mythology fighting his sibling for control over the kingdom. Well, it even has some horror with its marine creatures – that reminds you who the director is.

Positives and negatives :: There is nothing special being added to the story, and there are no twists coming your way. The similarities to Thor: Ragnarok are many, with not just the sibling battle, but also regarding the early defeat, loss of weapon and arena battle, this time in the absence of the Incredible Hulk. But we see the cast, and most of the problems vanish with the beautiful visuals – Amber Heard does what Natalie Portman couldn’t do in Thor, as the action star on the lines of Kate Beckinsale of Underworld and Mila Jovovich of Resident Evil, as she does the same thing better than ever. A journey through the underwater world, and witnessing a city with so much detail can negate the negatives easily enough. There is some nice humour, and the emotions stay strong for most of the time too. It hasn’t been that easy going for DC, even though Suicide Squad was a movie I enjoyed a lot, personally. Aquaman makes it easy for DC to go forward now.

The performers of the soul :: Jason Momoa remains strong in this one, and unlike that Justice League role, this time, he brings more charm. He nicely gets into the mix of Justice League with this one, and it will be interesting to see how everything works out with another movie with a team of superheroes trying to match the Avengers in another universe. Amber Heard is amazingly good as the warrior princess from underwater. We remember her for her presence in the thrilling horror movies like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, The Ward and The Stepfather as well as the action thrillers like And Soon the Darkness, 3 Days to Kill and Drive Angry. This one will be the new way to identify her, as a character which brings the best. She is perfectly suited for action sequences other than being remembered as a scream queen, and it is something that she seems to reiterate here. Patrick Wilson from Insidious & The Conjuring fame becomes an extremely effective villain too. Nicole Kidman has some fine moments too.

How it finishes :: Aquaman might be that one movie which could rise its level to catch up with Marvel, and after Wonder Woman, we have one another movie which lifts the universe again, with hope for even more. On the lines of Thor and Norse mythology, DC has its Greek mythology and elements including Atlantis about which we have read about in Plato’s Republic right in place. The myth and the visuals here can be considered to be even ahead of Wonder Woman, even though the island its inhabitants had their own charm too – nothing matches some nicely created underwater visual splendour though. With the second part of Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel to do the job for Marvel, DC has surely made its move in a nice way, the director of Insidious and The Conjuring, James Wan has made a point once again. Well, it is surprising that Aquaman about whom not many people know – the lesser known superhero now has a movie better than each and every better known superhero of Justice League.

Release date: 14th December 2018 (India); 21st December 2018 (USA)
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, Graham McTavish, Temuera, Ludi Lin, Randall, Djimon Hounsou, Natalia Safran, Sophia Forrest

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Wonder Woman

Vampire Owl: I see that humans have come up with another one with superpowers. They are never short of heroes who don’t exist.

Vampire Bat: The superheroes have also grown up with their civilizations along with the myths.

Vampire Owl: I do wonder how they manage to remember the names of this many superheroes. Maybe they have a list.

Vampire Bat: Well, there are the very famous ones, and then there are those which come in the next level of popularity. They remember only those whom they want to.

Vampire Owl: I had once known only Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and He-Man.

Vampire Bat: And there was also The Phantom and Mandrake, plus we knew some X-Men beginning with the Wolverine.

Vampire Owl: The rest certainly came late except for those who had regular access to DC and Marvel Comics.

Vampire Bat: And we are having a lot extra of the same now; remember there was even Doctor Strange who seemed like Mandrake to us.

Vampire Owl: DC and Marvel should be in a battle for more.

Vampire Bat: I am actually tired counting these superheroes, but there are some who needs more attention due to the variety.

[Gets the tickets with masala tea and cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Diana Prince a.k.a. the Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) receives an old photograph from Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman (Ben Affleck) after the events in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which seemingly lead to the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in the hands of the monster known as Doomsday. This image open a flashback to when Diana was a child and was training with the Amazons in the island of Themyscira, a place hidden from the outside world. Looked after carefully by her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright), she has a fascination to fighting, which they reluctantly agrees to have her go through. With a fear of war always in their heads, the Amazons are always ready for battle, with their combat training, in which Diana excels. But they know, and keep telling her that there is more to her than what meets the eye, and they understand that she is not really one of them by birth.

So, what happens next? :: Diana rescues a pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) after his plane manages to get through the fog and enter the coast of Themyscira. The Amazons kill the German soldiers chasing him with their arrows, but Antiope dies protecting Diana. It is revealed that Steve has been working as a spy for the Allies during World War I and has stolen valuable information from a weapons facility in the Ottoman Empire. With the help of the Turks, the German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) is having his sadistic scientist Doctor Maru a.k.a. Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) produce a new kind of gas which could deviate the war in their direction. Learning that millions could die if the German general has his way, Diana decides to leave the island with Steve and her weapons. She intends to find the God of War, Ares, and stop this war to end all wars. Despite their doubts, the Amazons decide not to stop her.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Their arrival at the city of London has Diana in doubts, but she goes along with his plans hoping to find the God of War and finish him off to save humanity. Despite providing the officials with his information, Steve is told to hold off any act against the Germans as an armstice is being discussed. But knowing that General Erich Ludendorff will not hold off his plan to release the gas, Steve decides to the frontlines, arranging a small team including a spy and language expert, Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), expert sniper Charlie (Ewen Bremner), and a smuggler Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) who helps them to get to the front. With no hope of getting through the lines, Diana decides that she has to take this to the next level. But how far can she go in search of the God of War, and how far will it lead her team of five through the First World War?

The defence of Wonder Woman :: There are many names which have come in favour of being the Wonder Woman, but Gal Gadot surely steals the show this one. Known the most for her work in the Fast and Furious series, that is surely going to change now, if it hadn’t with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you don’t watch this movie or ban it because she is in there, it is your loss – we have heard about people boycotting movies over the beliefs of one person, as they cruelly did with Ender’s Game, and also the nationality or other work is no reflection of the movie that he or she acts in – the irritating fans could be a better reason. She is brilliant in this one, with so many shades of a superhero being present here. Chris Pine also brings a fine, controlled performance here, even though he will always be remembered for Star Trek and its sequels more than any other. There is also that wonderful world in 3D, especially that of the Amazons, and we also have the explosions with all the shooting and all the rest that goes on in a superhero movie.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has some of the most memorable battle scenes, first one with the Amazon warriors battling the Germans on the beach and the second one with Wonder Woman making her way through the No Man’s Land. The final battle is not that much, with too much darkness on the screen at times, and at other times having too many explosions – the idea of the God of War could have also been left as it was expected to be, as we know humans and the evil that they bring to their world. I wouldn’t depend that much on the villains either, and even that twist feels rather unwanted – humans could have been left their right to be the villains in their own tale. The first half is also superior to the second, with the nice humour and the Amazon world becoming the highlights. There is also some balance here, without the overdose of heroism, except for what comes in the end. It is still a case of surprise seeing not many multiplexes showing this movie, and not many people wishing to watch it even on a holiday – there were like ten to fifteen people when I watched the same.

How it finishes :: Wonder Woman makes sure that the battle between Marvel and DC is on, and with Justice League coming up, we are sure to have them bringing the battle to Avengers. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice not being an assurance, and Suicide squad despite being an excellent one not working for those who decided not to embrace its poetic beauty on the screen, DC was to be left with those Dark Knight movies and up-to an extent, Man of Steel. But that won’t be the case from now on, and Wonder Woman begins that programme of resurrection. Well, with the shield and their ideas about the world, Wonder Woman can be DC’s own Captain America, but what one has to remember is that Avengers did it first, and Justice League is only following – with Marvel having the advantage, the question remains if DC can come up as strong as its competitor, without Christopher Nolan? The answer is to come late, but until then, we can enjoy Wonder Woman.

Release date: 2nd June 2017
Running time: 141 minutes
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Ewen Bremner, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Saïd Taghmaoui, Madeleine Vall Beijner, Ann Wolfe, Mayling Ng, Florence Kasumba

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Batman v Superman

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Vampire Owl :: I am not in favour of such people who claim to have powers above our kind. And they call superheroes only to fight each other? Strange, isn’t it?

Vampire Bat :: I don’t think that you should mind; Superman is from far beyond our realm; he is not even part of a known planet.

Vampire Owl :: Still, I think that there is going to be too much of a superhero crowd here.

Vampire Bat :: I had reserved that dialogue for Captain America: Civil War, and when there are X-Men around.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://www.kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1355-batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice

There are not many movies which the audience has been waiting for, during this year, as much as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This follow-up to Man of Steel has taken almost three years to be finally there for the audience to enjoy the weekend, and this time, it is for Easter. With movies like Wonder Woman, Justice League Part One, The Flash, Aquaman and Justice League Part Two lined up to follow, this one had to arrive at least now, to create that much needed base for Justice League and the other lesser known heroes to the fans outside North America and Europe.

Time has passed after the battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) which spread chaos and destruction all around the city of Metropolis. There were a lot of casualties, and the wound was not healed with time, as the new superhero had transformed into a controversial figure, with some people appreciating his presence as the savior of mankind while the others finding him as a threat and the false god – someone who is more of an alien than a man for the people on Earth. ­The television channels take over that particular topic and as it continues to be the hot item for discussion, there is someone who is a lot mad at this superhuman.

Batman (Ben Affleck) is a very unhappy man, as Bruce Wayne had his own troubles with that particular battle between the two aliens. After twenty years of fighting crime in Gotham City, he feels that it is his chance to avenge this alien for the death and destruction which he showered upon humanity with one big battle. At the same time, Clark Kent finds Batman as that kind of dangerous vigilante who should be stopped from taking law into his own hands when police should be handling such cases. With Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) also feeling the need to get rid of Superman, he will find a way to make the two heroes battle each other while having another plan in his mind.

The number of people waiting for this movie has been very high, even more than the grand wait for Captain America: Civil War. The need to watch the two big superheroes going against each other was what everyone really wanted to see. Even though that surely happens, it is not exactly what the movie is about. There is too much of time taken in this movie to get to that, and the basic idea is also not about their dislike for each other. With Wonder Woman not that much utilized, the movie’s aim just becomes establishing something like a base to bring the Justice League idea into the scene, even though that is not done with full strength either.

The movie is still with some very nice moments, and the action sequences work pretty much fine around here. It is also one of those rare opportunities to see Batman and Superman, along with Wonder Woman together in a movie – there are the others too, like Aquaman, The Flash and The Cyborg, but they are just present there in some videos. Batman also has too many dream sequences to make one wonder what the motive behind the same might be. The viewers do end up wishing that something better was created out of the material with two superheroes having similar thoughts of saving the world, but being so different from each other that it creates tension.

Unfortunately for the movie, the villain played by Jesse Eisenberg is just not menacing enough – this is not the Lex Luthor whom we had wished to see around here. Both Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck plays the too simple superheroes here, as they just go through their plans without much of the thoughts behind them – the audience might have felt that there could be more behind their ideologies, but things seems to go rather straight and clear with this movie, which troubles the cause. Amy Adams as Lois Lane has things going better, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is the one who scores the most as any superhuman – at least her side is rather clear here, and it is one character that never goes down the level in this movie.

This one might also be the worst movie from Zack Snyder who has directed movies like 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch and Dawn of the Dead. The best thing about this movie though, is that the audience is going to be treated with some bigger movies with roots in this particular flick; Gal Gadot is sure to be an awesome Wonder Woman in the big movie which is to arrive, as that is proven here with ease. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is surely not that bad, but it is not up-to the expectations either. You can still watch this one for the action sequences, and also for having that base for what is to follow with the movies which are on the list to arrive.

Release date: 25th March 2016
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Scoot McNairy, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Michael Cassidy, Kevin Costner, Christina Wren, Michael Shannon, Carla Gugino, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Wilson, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Patrick Leahy, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper, Nancy Grace, Charlie Rose

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Dark Knight Rises

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The one thing I am certain about this movie is that it is the one I have waited eagerly in 2012, and what I might differ in opinion with a few is that this is not among the best movies of the year. There is another element in which I would agree on, and it is that this is not the best of the series, and where I disagree is at the level of quality of each movie of the Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, with my favourites going in the same path as the timeline, as Batman Begins is my favourite, followed by The Dark Knight and this one, both separated by not much. But I wouldn’t do that without reasons. Ra’s al Ghul v/s Joker v/s Bane is a battle which has a clear winner for many, but The first one is a villain with something special, a big idea. But Batman Begins succeeds in its story, and the Scarecrow is a better villain than Two Face for sure. Both the Two Face and Bane were not used to their potential, and this is where the first movie of the series scores, as it built this triology out of nowhere, with nothing to support it at a time when Spider-Man and X-Men had the status of being the better loved heroes around here.

Without Batman Begins, there is no dark knight, a term which became incredibly popular and was even used with Novak Djokovic, not that much of an expected winner caught between the rivalry between Rafael Nadal who had clay in his pocket at that time, and Roger Federer who ruled the rest of the clay-less world. Therefore, it is just natural to pay the due respect to that movie which started them all. The Dark Knight had all its fame and glory only due to what the beginning had given its viewers, and I have to admit that I didn’t realize that the first time. But as long as the long list of origin stories are concerned, from X-Men Origins to the recently released Man of Steel, Batman Begins has a high place. The Dark Knight Rises continues that legacy which was handed over to it by the more critically acclaimed and more hyped second movie, and has completed the trilogy in style. The problem which this movie has to face is the long trail of near-perfection in the superhero genre that its predecessors had left for this one, and the same thing is both the good thing and the bad thing for this movie; for this one could improve on box-office, as it went on to overtake its predecessors and become the eighth highest grossing movie of all time grossing over a billion United States dollars. But it is to be noted that unlike its predecessors, the film was not nominated for any Academy Awards.

Eight years have passed after Harvey Dent’s death and the covering of the existence of the Two Face. The organized crime has almost been wiped out completely. Feeling guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes and framing Batman for the same, Gotham City’s Police Commissioner James Gordon writes a resignation speech which revealed the truth concerning the two, but decides not to use it at the last moment. Batman has disappeared and Bruce Wayne has kept himself away from all the action. It is at this moment that a burglar Selina Kyle appears, known to most of the fans as the Cat Woman. Bane’s appearance is the other major thing which changes the scenario, as he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s mission to destroy Gotham City and thus fulfill the aim of the League of Shadows. He punishes Batman and breaks his back, and then puts him in a prison from where escape is almost impossible. The fellow prisoners tell him the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping, the only prisoner to have ever done so – Batman assumes the child to be Bane, and his actions the revenge for what Batman did to his father.

Meanwhile, Bane traps Gotham police underground and destroys all the exits. He converts Bruce’s own reactor core into a nuclear bomb and uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the rest of the world. Using Gordon’s speech which he had stolen, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes telling the people that the whole police action and passed laws based on Dent’s act was a lie and releases the prisoners from different jails. There is a kind of revolution and the wealthy and powerful have their money and property taken away, are dragged from their homes, and forced to trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a the Scarecrow, where any sentence means death on most occasions and otherwise exile. After months of recovery and training both the body and the mind to face Bane, Batman manages to escape the prison and reach Gotham City, and enlist the help of Cat Woman and the others. But with a pseudo-revolution on the run, and all the criminals on the streets with no police force to stop them, Batman has more than what he would wish for this time. It is up-to him to stop the man who broke his back with relative ease, and to prevent whatever Ra’s al Ghul had intended to do.

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne a.k.a Batman continues his conquests, and here his performance is lowered only due to the absence of a villain who was as good as those in the first two movies, and there is no intellectually superior mastermind who decides who lives and who dies, and there is no wretched of the soul who is half Loki and half Lucifer, made with everything evil and everything psychotic. Instead he has a militant who is more of a physical threat than mental. Unfortunately, his thoughts and decisions are not his alone and himself outsmarting Batman was not something for which he could take credit, and at that point, he loses his significance and still not his presence and power. Still, Tom Hardy’s Bane is excellent in what he does. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle a.k.a Cat Woman becomes a revelation in the movie, and it is evident that she has trained extremely tried and tried her best to fit into that costume which so much physically demanding. Marion Cotillard outshines herself in the second half, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake comes up with a pleasant performance. Michael Caine and Gary Oldman plays the two normal characters in the movie who makes any impact.

Christopher Nolan did make Inception just a few years before this with that touch of brilliance, it was what stood between the two sequels; it was something which further accelerated the expectations. Here, we get some of it, and considering the fact that Batman has undergone evolution and there is no real base for the same, and there is no end to this superhero, we have to respect this title despite of the hype. It has done all that it could do, but it did nothing spectacular, and yet, this is very well done. It was a good decision to continue the Ra’s al Ghul legacy, and it was hundred percent a good decision not to make this in the 3D – full marks to that. There are movies that are to be enjoyed for fun, and even with all the entertaining elements in this movie, it scores slightly higher at the intellectual level rather than how it is supposed to happen in a regular superhero movie. The movie also leaves open slots, not just for a sequel, but also for a Cat Woman and a Robin spin-off as well as Justice League of America movie, in the model of The Avengers. It is certain that we haven’t seen even a little bit of what the DC’s cinematic universe has to offer its viewers. There is a lot coming, that is for sure with this one being the third highest grossing film of 2012 and also the third highest grossing superhero film of all time.

There is no doubt that the caped crusader has grown enough to lead the Mount Olympus of superheroes as the Zeus of this generation, with his biggest arch-rival Superman failing to live up-to the hype, and his next best rival Spider-Man slowly fading from the scene – both of them coming up with below-the-bat reboots which fails to challenge the Man-Bat. These three are challenged not by those superheroes of childhood, The Phantom and He-Man, but by the man they call Iron Man and his gang of Avengers, as well as X-Men, but they all follow a different path. The world’s greatest detective with the Bat logo has nothing to worry about his position right now, but in case of a reboot, it is all upto him to lose, as the rest have only gotten better. The concept of billionaire playboy, industrialist, and philanthropist itself already has been challenged by Iron Man, and with Man of Steel all the dark elements; The Amazing Spiderman has conquered the heroic elements, and whenever the abilities are glorified, there was X-Men First Class, with Wolverine to follow this year. Therefore, this domination of the dark knight is in a precarious position, and as this end to the trilogy was not as perfect as expected, there is surely a storm coming, and it would consist of more than one superhero. The only fear that I have is that can the Batman remain Batman for long, or will he be completely transformed into the dark knight, and Superman into the man of steel? It is that question which will be answered in a decade.

Release date: 20th July 2012
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.