Keedam

Vampire Owl: The name of this movie is interesting.

Vampire Bat: I also support people to use similar names for their movies.

Vampire Owl: We should also grow some vampire pests at home.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula managed to get rid of the pests after a long struggle.

Vampire Owl: We should use the pests to our advantage.

Vampire Bat: You can’t control these pests at all. Only the witches can do it.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they might use the pests against us?

Vampire Bat: They are good with such small creatures.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would expect an attack at any moment.

Vampire Bat: You should have faith in at least some witches. We are not so different from each other.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Radhika Balan (Rajisha Vijayan) lives with her father, Retired Advocate Balan (Sreenivasan) while working as a cyber-security expert at her own start-up company with her partner Vijay (Rahul Riji Nair). She is good friends with CI Charles (Vijay Babu), whom she helps as part of an investigation. Radhika is adamant that one’s privacy should always be respected and that their firm should only help people who have compromised their privacy due to hacking or carlessness. It is then that she accidentally calls a wrong number and Kili Biju (Mahesh Nair) who is on the other side continues to bother her on phone. He gets her name through True Caller App and finds more information about her by searching her name on Facebook. She is frustrated and decides to complain to the police, and things go out of control at the police station. Biju’s friend Thurumbu Aji (Renjit Shekar Nair) is a man who has been on the criminal records for a long time, and was also involved in a murder case – he decides to lead his friends (Anand Manmadhan and Arjun Ranjan) in an attempt to make Radhika’s life a living hell, and doesn’t leave her father out of it either.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They follow her at her home and office, and also goes on to destroy the reputation of her father – it feels like wherever she goes, they are present at the location. When they decide that they are finally done with Radhika and her father, she decides that this is not the end. She decides to get into their privacy by hacking their mobile phones, so that they won’t think about doing this to anybody else again. Vijay is worried about her actions, and the same is the case of her father, but she is not ready to go back on it. She manages to get into the phone of Biju, and even though it is only revenge that was looking for, she comes across the information that could mean more than that. It turns out that even though they live as scrap-dealers, there is more to them than what meets the eye. They are involved in gold smuggling and other illegal activities, and they work as carriers for different people in different areas. Radhika might be dealing with a little bit too much, and it will be of the best interest for everyone if she backs down, but will she? What will Aji and his group do when they find out that she is spying on their crimes?

The defence of Keedam :: We can see that Keedam chooses a realistic character who doesn’t create any magic within a thriller unlike what is often expected. The female protagonist here does what she has always done the best, and she does the same in style. The messages about cyber security is more or less of a reminder of the world that we are living in, and leaves the idea that we need to be more careful when we are using any electronic device. There are some defining moments here which makes things more interesting. The final moments are indeed thrilling, even though the much needed final closure was not there to be taken. The divergence that the movie possesses is to be appreciated, and unlike some other industries, Malayalam seems to have all those movies, with the makers moving from one category to the other with relative ease, and even coming up classic stuff in between. The father-daughter relationship is shown well, reminding one of the same in Helen and Uyare with Lal-Anna and Siddique-Parvathy, even though the father figure here is more worried and weakened, and still doesn’t trouble her with his lectures much.

The claws of flaw :: Keedam doesn’t use its resources to the best advantage – the premise was so good, and there were so many paths which it could have travelled; there is no limitation in the cyber world. Cyber security is no longer the topic of a selected few, and the rise of Jio and the spread of COVID-19 did change the situation for internet and its unlimited resources which came upon unsuspecting people all of a sudden – most of them were easy prey to cyber problems as they were not ready, and the youth just fell into the mobile gaming trap. The film could have dealt with such problems more effectively like Operation Java. Often, there is the feeling that something is missing in between. As it follows this particular pattern, there is the unconvincing feeling coming up at times. The ending could have also been better, and it didn’t need the forced extra scene there. The movie had also started with Hindi lines with the beginning credits, and that provides the feeling that someone speaking Hindi was involved in crimes or that this happens outside Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a rather strange to do, whatever be the reason.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who could be a part of the much acclaimed Jai Bhim after the sports drama Kho Kho, once again does an excellent job in another role of interest. There are not many roles which she can’t do in the industry, as she rises above the other actresses with movies having her as main protagonist. She gets into this character which is very much different from her much appreciated roles in June and Finals, and always looks comfortable with the same. Rahul Riji Nair who directs another film with the same lady lead has things in control as the actor too. Sreenivasan is present in the father role, and has done the character of a concerned father well. Vijay Babu plays a sensible police officer with all the qualities which are needed with it. Manikandan Pattambi of Marimayam fame manages the negative character well, and it is his dialogue which seems to give the title to this movie. The rest of the antagonists of the group have managed their roles well, and in a realistic manner, led by Renjit Shekar Nair. For this movie, the choice of antagonists did work in its favour, even though in the end, there should have been more in store for them.
How it finishes :: Keedam is a movie which could have achieved so much more – there was so much potential considering the topic which it was dealing with. But with its idea and the protagonist to be noted, there is another step in the right direction, and it remains very much interesting at the same time too. It is another reminder of Malayalam movie industry’s courage to venture into unfamiliar territories, as it had already done with the superhero stuff in Minnal Murali stuff, while also having one of the most human films in the form of Madhuram releasing in different OTT platforms within the gap of a few days. Rajisha Vijayan might be the best actress we have in Malayalam film industry now, and we know that people don’t get Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress on debut movies just like that as she did in Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. She has dealt with sadness, depression, anger, fear, love and friendship with so much effectiveness in her movies. The movie could have had more for her, but as it seems now, is an entertaining thriller which also has a realistic side in parts.

Release date: 1st July 2022 (ZEE5); 20th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Vijay Babu, Sreenivasan, Manikandan Pattambi, Renjit Shekar Nair, Anand Manmadhan, Mahesh Nair, Rahul Riji Nair, Arjun Ranjan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Innale Vare

Vampire Owl: Is this movie about yesterdays?

Vampire Bat: From the title, it seems that yesterdays are important.

Vampire Owl: Our yesterdays are pretty much far away.

Vampire Bat: The vampire yesterdays have always been centuries away.

Vampire Owl: Not all centuries are the same.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but they are all short for us.

Vampire Owl: Not just for us, but for all immortals.

Vampire Bat: Depends on how we will take the immortality.

Vampire Owl: Does this movie fit into our immortal calendar?

Vampire Bat: It is something which is yet to be seen.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of chocolate tea].

What is the movie about? :: Adhi (Asif Ali) is a superstar who is now going through a struggling phase as an actor. His movies haven’t been getting the success that they used to have, and he no longer remains the crowd-puller despite having so many fans and fan clubs. Due to his lavish lifestyle, he also has a lot of debts to be paid. Due to the same reason, he is forced to act in many advertisements, most of them which he doesn’t like at all. He is in love with Aishu (Reba Monica John), whose family doesn’t approve of such a relationship, as Adhi does have other affairs too – he is almost living together with a married actress named Karthika (Athulya Chandra), and he successfully keeps that a secret. Jomi (Rony David) handles things for him as the efficient manager, but the debts seem to get worse, as money lenders even reach his home and take away his cars. Both Aishu and Karthika are infatuated with him, and is not ready to leave him at any cost. Karthika knows that she is not the only one for him, but finds comfort with him in the absence of her husband who never bothers to call her or come home.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: At the same time, a stranger who identifies himself as Sharath (Antony Varghese) is following him. He seems to collect information about him through cameras and hidden voice recorders. Aadhi who one day comes to know that Karthika is carrying his child, tries to get there as soon as possible, and finds a lady who calls herself Shaani (Nimisha Sajayan), and she offers him a lift. She asks him to come to her home and see her husband once, and adds that she is ready to give him the car so that he can go wherever he wants to. Finding this to be a comfortable option, he gets to her apartment, only to find himself locked inside one of the rooms. It is later revealed that Sharath and Shaani has other plans for him. It seems to be motivated by money in the beginning, but there seems to be something different about these two. Yet, the need to save a house from being taken away by the bank seems to be a priority. But they don’t seem to know that Adhi has no money. How can any of them get what they want at this stage?

The defence of Innale Vare :: The movie doesn’t exaggerate things, and seems to go on without adding the unnecessary things including those highly emotional and romantic songs which would have been there for the taking. The tension and anxiety are maintained most of the time, and there are enough twists to keep things going around here. There is a certain amount of mystery about a lot of things around here, and the same is solved in the end, as different sides seem to come together. The idea about how technology can be used to make a person disappear by impersonating him or her will also keep us interested – Cold Case had also dealt with some part of the same, and this one takes it to another level. The messages from this type of movies might to be more careful about what we choose to do, no matter which side we are on, for even the most social ones can suffer – it is also easy to misunderstand someone. Yet, the movie’s main message seems to be that if we try to know people, everyone is good, as it seemed to be in most of the movies of the same director that came much earlier.

The claws of flaw :: The movie surely had a lot to do with its premise, and it doesn’t manage to come up with enough on most occasions. It seems to have struggled hard to make it a feel-good movie, wandering a long way away from where it seemed to be heading in the earlier stages. For an effective thriller, this one needed to keep a certain amount of its darkness as an interesting element which contributes throughout its run. There is almost no intensity with this thriller, and the characters seem to be not motivated enough to do most of the things – they seem to let things go on without trying hard. It is also too long with its content which is not strong enough to withstand time. The final twist and ending could have used some polishing, even if the purpose was to leave with a happy finish. There are too many repetitions around here too, and predictability also has a role to play. Some of the moments are shown just for the sake of being there, and in the process, it elongates the movie to a length that would have been stronger for more content.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who finally has his first direct OTT release, does a good job, as things happen around his character. It is not that much of a big or challenging role though. It is good to see Antony Varghese in a role with a difference, which he seems to find okay. Nimisha Sajayan disappoints for most part of the movie though, in a work which seems to be unnatural. Even for the audience, she seems to be overacting in front of the police in scenes, but the cops within the film don’t seem to find it so – there is also that certain expression she seems to maintain, which doesn’t suit here, as much as in her earlier movies. Rony David is really good in another supporting role, and Irshad does the police job well again. Reba Monica John’s role is unfortunately a little bit too small, but she proves to be suitable in that one. Athulya Chandra does job well, as she seems to reflect the character in concern really well. Nandu is there in a small role, and so are a number of performers who make the smaller contributions.

How it finishes :: The fact that the director switches from feel-good movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans, the effect seems to be lesser than what the genre deserved. His first movie and the only thriller, Bicycle Thieves was one of the worst thrillers which graced Malayalam movie industry with a twist which was as dumb as it could get. This one is surely much better than that, but one has to wonder about the purpose of making feel-good thrillers – most of the time, such combinations form a strange paradox which is not acceptable. When actors play actors, there seems to be something lacking too, and the same was seen in movies like Driving Licence too. But the makers do manage to bring things together as the movie nears the end, and this seems to be the kind of thriller which would also make the family audience happy, as such light thrillers are not easy to find. Well, if this kind of thrills happen in real life, there would be terror guaranteed, but not that much in this case.

Release date: 8th June 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Antony Varghese, Asif Ali, Nimisha Sajayan, Reba Monica John, Rony David, Nandu, Irshad, Athulya Chandra, Anand Bal, Siddique Ismail

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rise of the Black Swan

Vampire Owl: I have missed the Vampire Swan for quite a long time.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we haven’t really employed one.

Vampire Owl: There was the one which stood guard near the vampire canteen.

Vampire Bat: It was the Vampire Duck, on temporary service.

Vampire Owl: You had ducks as temporary vampire guards?

Vampire Bat: Well, there was the zombie threat and we were in short of troops.

Vampire Owl: Still, why didn’t anyone choose a majestic black swan instead?

Vampire Bat: Well, the ducks charged less, and zombies never know the difference.

Vampire Owl: They would have known if they had reached the castle during the attack.

Vampire Bat: Even then, the zombies would eat only the brains of a duck.

[Gets a vanilla cake and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Black Swans is an American private military company owned by the family of William Lewis (Tom Wilkinson) and his children Grace Lewis (Ruby Rose) and Oliver Lewis (Owain Yeoman). British Army’s Special Air Service Commander George Clements (Andy Serkis) gives them the mission to clear a remote village somewhere in Georgia for a transnational gas pipeline. But the villagers are not ready to leave their homes, and the Black Swans brutally murder all the men, leaving the women and children to run for their lives. But the atrocities committed in the village were filmed secretly, and red notices are served following the accusations of crimes against citizens of different countries. The international law demands that the United Kingdom extradite the three accused – William, Grace and Oliver to the Hague for a trial. The Prime Minister Atwood (Ray Panthaki) asks Clements to kill William and anyone who comes against them so that the involvement of the government is covered.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: William had already become too rich and influential with his mercenary business, buying new homes and business. The team attacks the mansion of the Black Swans and Clements personally murders William, only to find that Grace and Oliver are not there anymore. It seems that they had all of these planned, and Grace always knew what was coming to them. Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan) who is planning to propose to Sophie Hart (Hannah John-Kamen) is one of the special troops who attempted to raid the mansion, and fought off a good number of Black Swans who were guarding the area. He decides to go to Paris on romantic trip with her, as there is a doubt which remains among both of them about their love affair, and both do wonder if they love each other than much to get married. But that really doesn’t really seem like a good idea, as he notices someone who looks like Grace inside the Eurostream train going to Paris.

And what more is to follow in this dangerous journey of another king? :: Soon enough, the train is hijacked by Grace and her group of Black Swans with the support of Oliver. Tom manages to escape from the train and starts sending updates his good friend and fellow special troops officer Declan Smith (Tom Hopper), who informs the authorities about what has happened within the tunnel. Major Bisset (Noel Clarke) who is the commanding officer of the operation wishes to save as many hostages as possible, while this becomes breaking news in the television channels all over the United Kingdom, and many speculations arise as the news reaches world-wide. Clements is also sent to the location by the Prime Minister with only one aim, to finish off Grace who knows everything about their secrets. Tom is determined to save Sophie, but she refuses his aid and is not ready to leave the train as there are so many passengers in there who needs some medical assistance. Grace asks for a ransp, of $500 million from the company which wanted to have the villages cleared, Britgaz. But can she get that, and can the hostages be saved?

The defence of SAS: Rise of the Black Swan a.k.a. SAS: Red Notice :: As expected, this one serves as the action thriller which it was supposed to be. It provides some of the very engaging moments with so many lives at stake. Ruby Rose remains strong in another action movie role, like she had done in John Wick. She continues to excel in the action scenes, and remains strong with a certain psychotic side. Sam Heughan remains strong in the role that is about saving too many people. Hannah John-Kamen also does a fine job, while Andy Serkis and Tom Hopper remains good. The settings serve really good, and being caught in a train within a tube full of mercenaries ready to kill, serves the purpose well. The movie surely feels somewhat old fashioned, but maintains a certain amount of standard related to that, even though it never goes down to that level of those silly mass masala movies of Bollywood or some of those overrated high budget movies of the South. The world here surely keeps itself from going down from the suitable level.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does remind us of many other movies, even though it is not of that much strength as some of the others. For most of the film, people seem to reiterate the fact that the main character here is trained, and isn’t too much bothered about his presence on board the train. There is also a certain amount of silliness with the movie’s primary antagonist and her actions, and even though she is menacing, is not even. They surely had the budget to add some special scenes around here too, and also some spectacular action sequences which are not usually seen. A little bit of exaggeration, especially related to action scenes was expected, and the same is present around here. The predictability factor is also present without doubt, and we know mostly what is going to happen around here. You have the specially trained hero trying to save the people inside a train from a group of mercenaries led by a merciless maniac.

How it finishes :: As this movie is known as SAS: Red Notice, it is not to be confused with that particular movie which has the big names like Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot in the lead. This one is also an action movie, but surely more serious than that one. This is also an entertaining ride as much as that one though. As a movie based on the novel with the same name by Andy McNab, whether it satisfies the fans of the books is yet to be known. But as of now, we can enjoy the work done here, thanks to the lot of action that goes on around here. We are never short of a possibility of a terrorist attack happening at any part of the world, and so we are looking for a lot of saviours in action. It is the kind of movie in which we go with the flow of action, and get immersed in the adventure that we witness around. Well, after all, most of us might not be traveling in the Channel Tunnel in our lives, and a lot of us most probably won’t be inside a high-speed train or travel underwater – let us enjoy what we see on the screen in that way too.

Release date: 12th March 2021 (UK); 5th November 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Magnus Martens
Starring: Sam Heughan, Ruby Rose, Hannah John-Kamen, Anne Reid, Andy Serkis, Tom Hopper, Noel Clarke, Owain Yeoman, Ray Panthaki, Tom Wilkinson, Jing Lusi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Intrusion

Vampire Owl: So, who is the real intruder around here?

Vampire Bat: Freida Pinto plays the one who goes through the intrusion.

Vampire Owl: I remember her from some of the interesting films of past.

Vampire Bat: Freida is indeed better than almost every Bollywood actress here.

Vampire Owl: Bollywood has never been known for quality in acting.

Vampire Bat: It has never been known much for the plot either.

Vampire Owl: There is nothing that I want in a movie than a good plot.

Vampire Bat: Well, they can give a good story, but not a good plot.

Vampire Owl: Well, they are limited in talent due to acting being family business.

Vampire Bat: You don’t inherit all skills just like that.

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

What is the movie about? :: Breast cancer survivor and immigrant from India, Meera Parsons (Freida Pinto) and her husband, architect Henry Parsons (Logan Marshall-Green) have moved from Boston to an isolated area of New Mexico, as latter had designed a new house using all her skills. Meera continues to be concerned about the possibilities of cancer returning, as she finds something near her breast while showering. She tries to keep things secret from her husband, even though he has been very supportive and has made sacrifices throughout his career in the past. At night, after having dinner outside, they return only to find their home being broken into. Detective Stephen Morse (Robert John Burke) suspects that it is someone they knew as the laptops and mobile phones are the only things which are missing from the house. As they are basically in the middle of nowhere, there is nobody to call for some quick help, and he finally installs some security cameras to be sure.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meera has another check-up and finds out that there is no signs of cancer returning, much to relief of both of them. But they wake up at night due to some strange noise, but they are not able to turn on the lights. He goes to check on the generator and finds out that it has been smashed. He finds out that there are intruders in the house, while Meera is tied up and gagged. They manage to escape with the men being shot down, while the intruders are also supposed to be responsible for the disappearance of a girl named Christine Cobb (Megan Elisabeth Kelly), all of them coming from the same family which lives in a poor neighborhood. Two of them died in the spot while the remaining person died later in the hospital. Meera remains in trauma after the incident, but Henry asks him to move on, as the last person also dies in the hospital. Meera wonders if there is something wrong, considering the way Henry was dealing with the situation, but there might be more than what meets the eye about the same. Will the two stay together after knowing the whole truth?

The defence of Intrusion :: The movie works as an effective mystery work rather than going the full thriller mode. There are secrets in here, and they are revealed as the movies progresses firmly. The location is really good, and we have the feeling of that this could be a perfect place for some strange and mysterious things to happen. We keep wondering if something is behind all of these, at all times, as clues are given to us at regular intervals. There is also the reflection of human inherent evil, even on people who are supposed to be not the bad guys. The tendency to be evil is shown as always there. The human mind is a paradise for evil, and as one goes through different situations, divergent ways of evil are released, as seen in this movie through seemingly perfect people. Most of the times, it looks like a standard, decent effect, even though it wouldn’t claim for a lot, with enough awareness on its own existence, and where the strengths lie. It goes on in a straight forward manner, with out ups and downs.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been made in a more thrilling way in comparison to how it has progressed as of now. We do have a guess about the twists which are to come in the end, and there are clues which we can understand better than the main character can. Even with its shorter run-time, the movie still feels long, as things do not pick up the pace at any moment, until the final revelation and realization. It doesn’t use the home invasion elements to advantage either, and the surprise element could have been strengthened, maybe with the use of better elements of shock. There could have been those moments which raised the level of the movie, but this one just manages to go on at the same level at all times. The movie doesn’t have enough to go this long, and one and a quarter minutes would have been enough for this one. One would wonder how this one would work if some more effects were added here, with lighting or with the sounds at night. There was chance for some horror elements, especially as this has the psychological elements – the home invasion could have easily been scary enough to make an impact.

The performers of the soul :: Freida Pinto has things in control here, and we know that she is capable of more than the usual Bollywood actors and actresses, most of them being there just because of their parents, uncles, aunties and grandparents. It is nice to be in quality movies and come up with a role of relevance every time, she seems to continue to do the same again and again. This movie is completely about her, as it is up to her to discover the secrets about what has been happening around here, especially a few things which are not going to make her happy in any way. This is something that good actresses rarely get in Bollywood, and she has another work to remember, rising above the overall strength of the movie itself. Logan Marshall-Green plays the next important role, and it is the one other role of significance that is there throughout the movie. The other characters are of very low significance, and one person who becomes important in the end is Megan Elisabeth Kelly, played well for a very short period of time.

How it finishes :: Intrusion manages to be interesting enough with Freida Pinto at the centre. There is no questioning her skills at any moment, but some opportunities are being missed out, as you look around here. Not to be confused with Intuition, which is a Spanish thriller, this one would focus on the location more than anything else to gain what it wants. It also provides the much known idea again, that things are not really what they seem, especially with the rich and influential people who wear the masks. Even though engaging in its own slower path, one has to remember that this is not exactly the home invasion movie or psychological thriller that you would expect, as this one has its own deviations. The short description and divisions into categories won’t do this one complete justice, as categorization needn’t be that exact. But you watch this one for Freida, and enjoy another ride which brings the surprise. After all, different tastes call for different kinds of surprises.

Release date: 22nd September 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Adam Salky
Starring: Freida Pinto, Logan Marshall-Green, Sarah Minnich, Robert John Burke, Yvette Fazio-Delaney, Clint Obenchain, Mark Sivertsen, Megan Elisabeth Kelly, Hayes Hargrove, David DeLao, Brandon Root, Bonita King, Josh Horton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Encounter

Vampire Owl: I have always enjoyed encounters with aliens.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you have always been looking for vampire aliens.

Vampire Owl: If a species requires blood to survive, they would just vampires and not aliens.

Vampire Bat: Well, if they are from another planet, they are surely aliens.

Vampire Owl: You are questioning their basic nature of existence.

Vampire Bat: When on Earth, they are still aliens.

Vampire Owl: Drinking blood is in their nature, and that counts as vampires only.

Vampire Bat: This one is worth a debate at the Dracula Castle.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that Uncle Dracula will accept them as just vampires.

Vampire Bat: You don’t know him well enough after the Corona virus pandemic.

[Gets some French fries and three glasses of strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) is a dishonorably discharged Marine who is having a tough time living the usual kind of life. He sees that there is so much of riots going on the nearby cities, and the is bothered by increase in violence all around the state and the country. His former wife Piya Khan (Janina Gavankar) and children Jay Khan (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby Khan (Aditya Geddada) are now living with her present husband Dylan (Misha Collins), a long distance from him. The sons, especially Jay is not happy with the situation, and has turned extremely arrogant. He visits Jay and Bobby at takes them away in his car, saying that this is a road trip which their mother has kept as a surprise. The boys feel that this could really be a fun ride, but there is more to it than what he says. Malik seems to be waiting for something bad to happen at all times, and there is a lot of worries that he seems to have here.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: When they are stopped on the road by a police officer, he is forced to tell the boys the truth about what has been happening in the last few days. He tells them that there are some non-terrestrial microorganisms taking over the planet, as these aliens are using human bodies are used as hosts – most of the humans are no longer in control, and some heavy research is required regarding this, for which they hope to reach a safe place. He also feels that at least half of the population has been infected. The idea of a parasite growing inside one’s body frightens the boys, but they decide to fight and make it the safe place with their father. As Hattie (Octavia Spencer) is the one who is in charge of Malik’s parole understands that he took the children after tying up Piya and Dylan, she understands that he is in trouble. Back home, FBI is in charge of the investigation on the kidnapping of the boys, and they feel that he might be going to keep his children.

The defence of Encounter :: The beginning of the movie was really good, and it keeps us interested throughout most part of its run. Most of the things which were shown in the beginning turns useless in the end, but they had a fine role in making the whole film engaging. This has the strength to work as a post-apocalyptic movie after the worms, parasites, or anything takes over later, but it chooses to go ordinary, and that is indeed a shame. The performance are really good, and the visuals are also nice, when we look at them. Some action is also added here and there, but there is almost no horror being part of this, even though there was the chance for that too. It is basically what we thought about the movie before watching it that has kept us interested, and one has to say that the talk about the film before its release did go well to create an image – the same is not reflected well here though, as we stare at it.

The claws of flaw :: Encounter is very much a confused movie, as it doesn’t really seem to know what it is aiming for, with a beginning as an alien invasion movie, and then going on to be a strange family drama. This change that the movie brings at a point of time does no favour to it – if everything happened the other way around, things would have been much better. The movie is called a science fiction thriller both on IMDB and Wikipedia, and one really has to wonder how this film gets into that particular category, especially in the second half, as the path seems completely lost. Even though the ending does look realistic, it is not the kind of finish that are looking for, and for a climax like this one, not many people would wish to buy the tickets – well, this is on Amazon Prime Video and when you have already taken the subscription, one might just end up watching it quickly for the sake of it. Promoting a movie as what it really is, would be the right thing to do, in my opinion.

Performers of the soul :: It is the performances that score for the movie which struggles with confusion over its own identity, as Riz Ahmed does a very good job as the former Marine who seems to be trying to end an alien invasion, but is as confused as the movie itself. His feeling of paranoia, worries and strange acts are all things which work well for us. If the movie could have actually stepped it up well enough, this could have brought wonders for him, but unfortunately, he also struggles with the film as we reach the disappointing end. Janina Gavankar has some fine family moments in the beginning, but that doesn’t carry over as the protagonist doesn’t really feel the need to save her from aliens. Octavia Spenser also has some fine moments, as one of the most likable characters that we see anywhere. Rory Cochrance is the typical FBI agent that we see in different movies in similar forms. The two children are good, especially Lucian-River Chauhan who has a little more to contribute in comparison with Aditya Geddada.

How it finishes :: Encounter makes another science fiction alien invasion thriller entry to Amazon Prime Video after The Tomorrow War did the same thing a few months ago. Still, our movie here is rather different, with no big alien attacking people around, and no huge action scenes – in this case, we don’t have too much of sci-fi being thrown around, as no certainty about the alien attack is provided. Almost all the movie, you keep thinking if there is really an alien, a doubt which won’t favour you if you are looking for full action alien flicks. This movie is more drama when we consider the case here. You have an alien movie here without the certainty of the existence of the aliens, and that is indeed not the science fiction that you want. Well, when there are so many alien invasion movies at your disposal, and which a good number of science fiction films waiting for your eyes, this one which degrades into a family drama might not be the one you prefer, but it is still an interesting watch, especially during the first half.

Release date: 10th December 2021
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Michael Pearce
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, Rory Cochrane, Lucian-River Chauhan, Aditya Geddada

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Paramedic

Vampire Owl: Another good Spanish film to watch? That sounds fair.

Vampire Bat: Well, we have always wanted to have more foreign movies to watch.

Vampire Owl: As we speak, the theatres are opening here too.

Vampire Bat: Well, the question remains – for how long?

Vampire Owl: So, you think that the next wave is coming soon.

Vampire Bat: I can already feel it to be close. One only has to wonder about the terror the virus can unleash this time.

Vampire Owl: Nobody is afraid of the Corona virus anymore.

Vampire Bat: They need to be afraid. It is a shame if they are not.

Vampire Owl: Well, people make their own strange choices these days.

Vampire Bat: Not people, just humans. All the other species are fine.

[Gets a chicken samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Angel Hernandez (Mario Casas) is a paramedic who doesn’t care about his patients, and he also steals valuable items from them if he gets a chance. He is also disappointed about not having a child with his girl friend, Vanesa Francois (Deborah Francois) with whom he shares an apartment. He is also very possessive towards her, and blames her for them not having a child. But she wouldn’t care that much about the same, as she is ore interested in her work and advanced level of studies. Things get only worse when their ambulance which his colleague Ricardo (Guillermo Pfening) was driving meets with an accident, and Angel is paralyzed from waist down, leaving him on a wheel chair. This also further strains the relationship between him and Vanesa, and he begins to feel that she is cheating on him. His doubts only increase, and he also starts spying on her – when she realizes the same, she leaves him. But he still remains obssessed with her, and wouldn’t stop stalking her.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, he comes to know that Vanesa has also started a relationship with Ricardo. Soon, he feels that they are going to have a baby, and that further disappoints him. As he goes through his therapy, Angel is more and more concerned about the sequence of events which had occurred earlier. Therefore, he decides to take matters into his hands and calls Vanessa to come back to their apartment, and take her remaining possessions. But when she arrives, he injects him with medicines that leave her unconscious, and ties her to the bed. He also sends messages to Ricardo from her mobile phone, about her not wishing to have the baby, and that she is also not interested in continuing the relationship anymore. He also injects him with drugs so that she temporarily losses the use of her legs. Now, he has plans of them living together like this, and also raise the baby which she would have. Now, it is up to her to try to escape, and him to continue with his strange plans. The question remains about who will succeed in the end.

The defence of The Paramedic :: The Paramedic is partly a thriller and in part a drama, as we look at it. There are moments which raise the level of the movie, and it is very strong in parts, as we look at it. Some moments will be remembered, even though not fully, and the weirdness and sadness of the main character who often gets psychotic will be remembered. The tension does become stronger at times, and at times, we have some anguish and melancholy taking over, even though not at the strongest with the same. Yet, the same doesn’t reach the full potential, even when we feel that it is rising. The setting is really good, with the Spanish streets and an apartment proving as good backgrounds to the work. For a good amount of time, the movie has a certain amount of realistic feeling, and it is also simple enough, even though its characters are indeed complicated. After all, considering the times in which we live in, there are not many things which are not possible among humanity which has come down by a long way.

The claws of flaw :: The Paramedic had the chance to be something bigger, but it doesn’t use its scope to the best advantage. After the premise changes, and the quick turn of events create something for the film to use in the best possibly ways, it keeps itself back instead. In between everything that happened in the movie, we could have been able to add so many things here and there, but this one chooses to go the usual path, without adding the innovative. The movie is also too slow, and it doesn’t pick up the pace even when there was the certain chance to do so. The drag that it had in between could have been easily avoided. The ending is also not that strong enough, as we were expecting something huge happening with the climax too, but that was also not there. It could have also had some very disturbing and scary things to be added in between, and we feel that they could have arrived at many points. It could have been more fun, or with more substance, but both cases are ignored by the film which just goes on without the deviations.

Performers of the soul :: Mario Casas is solid in his role, which turns out to be a very negative one only a few minutes into the movie. He maintains the characteristics of the role throughout the run, and that does brings some unpredictability in between. Deborah Francois also comes up with a strong performance, as it is required from her here. Her character also changes, and gathers a lot of strength throughout the existence. The other characters give some support, and they are of lesser significance. It is to be noted that there are not characters whom we can call good, as most of them have a neutral vibe or the grey side in action here. We are not admirers of any of these characters, and most of us won’t even make friends out of them. Among the smaller performers who catch our attention, the first one is Maria Rodriguez Soto who has a lot of melancholy going on with her, and Guillermo Pfening who becomes a reason to keep the story going. Celso Bugallo also adds a bit there.

How it finishes :: The Paramedic was a fine opportunity to come up with something huge, but the film refuses to take that risk, and manages to provide us with the usual rather than anything else. While reading about the movie, the expectations were surely higher. For a movie which is known more as a thriller, more thrills are surely required, and with such fine performers, the film could have achieved more. With the theatres all prepared to open, one can wonder if what people would choose now, to go to the OTT platforms or go back to the theatres. I would wait in that case, and go for the movies which are still available in those platforms to watch. After all, the third wave of Corona virus might still be ready to come. You have to stay safe during these periods of time, and it has to be a thing of priority, not just for yourself, but also for the people around you. The two doses of vaccine are no guarantee for anything, and so we are supposed to continue to be as careful as we used to be in the beginning of this pandemic and during the lockdowns and quarantines.

Release date: 16th September 2020
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Carles Torras
Starring: Mario Casas, Deborah Francois, Celso Bugallo, Raul Jimenez, Pol Monen, Gerard Oms, Guillermo Pfening, Maria Rodriguez Soto

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

<— Click here to go to the previous Western European film review.

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Acceleration

Vampire Owl: How far can you accelerate here?

Vampire Bat: Well, the movie has a world of crime in it, and so, we can be sure that the acceleration will be related to action.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that such an acceleration will affect the plot negatively.

Vampire Bat: I am pretty sure that there will be just the usual plot.

Vampire Owl: They are not really into create a story to run beneath the action, or do they value it too?

Vampire Bat: I have read what the movie is about. It is nothing that you have heard about – we have only that tale without surprises.

Vampire Owl: So, this movie is to be watched only for the action sequences.

Vampire Bat: There could also be some thrilling moments in store.

Vampire Owl: Well, if it works with what it needs to, I have no real objection.

Vampire Bat: Let us see how it manages to work out.

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

What is the movie about? :: Vladik Zorich (Dolph Lundgren) is one of the much feared and respected crime lords of Los Angeles. As he is double-crossed by his most trusted operative on crime, Rhona Zyocki (Natalie Burn), the man who runs many businesses including weapons, gambling, drugs and skin trafficking, decides to make her dance according to his songs. With no more risks possible in his current business, he kidnaps her only son, and with the little kid by his side, he gets the power to make her obey everything that he asks him to do, like a slave under command, the chain being attached to the child. As her son’s life is in his hands, Rhona struggles to obey Vladik’s orders, as she has to face some of the most twisted men and women in the business. But with her son’s life on the line, she will go through punches, kicks, gunshots and torture, with one goal in mind. Can Natalie do all the necessary things needed to keep her son alive, as Vladik has more plans for her? Will she and her son survive?

The defence of Acceleration :: The movie does have some nice action sequences, more related to shooting, and thanks to Natalie Burn being perfect in doing all that, Acceleration does manage to accelerate through its short run-time which is actually shorter due to the longer credit scenes, making it lasting about one hour and twenty minutes, losing another five minutes in the process. With such a low budget, they did manage to make this much, and has also managed to have some good performances from the main cast. The visuals are good too, as we look at the city which is coloured nicely in the night and with the darkness to set the mood for some action with much at stake. As the movie progresses you want to see more of Natalie on the screen, as sooner or later, this becomes all about her, the character on whom everything around here focuses on. You will have to watch it without thinking too much, and things will come together with progress.

The claws of flaw :: There are times when we feel that the writers were in a hurry to finish this movie. This is already a very short movie lasting less than one and half hours, and they don’t find it enough, as it seems from how this movie has been jumping from one scene to the other. There could have been better editing in place for sure. In the end, there is a rush, and at times, the protagonist has it easy – she beats up people easily, and escapes from bondage by herself, not really looking as if she ever had even a little trouble. You shouldn’t make things too easy in a movie like this, as the way she escapes here is just too silly, as the man who caught her and tied her up is a human trafficker and had intended to punish her hard in a way which she would remember throughout her like until she dies, but she just frees herself and simply stabs him after walking through his evil lair which is supposed to be so difficult to escape from. The movie’s twists are not interesting either – there were opportunities to add to it, but the movie doesn’t do so.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has Natalie Burn written all over it as far as performances are concerned, as she becomes the perfect action star with looks and style as much as the action sequences. With her looks, she is separated from the usual leading actress – she possesses that intensity that cannot be unmatched, and that is more or less due to her appearance, as she becomes someone we expect to beat people up, and maybe even shoot them nicely. But action surely is not her only skill, as Natalia Guslistaya, the Ukrainian model can do much more, without doubt. She was also seen in Mechanic: Resurrection, Expendables 3 and Criminal, all of them action thrillers, even though not in those main roles, and so there is a good chance that you might have missed her in those films. Dolph Lundgren was last seen in Aquaman in a significant role, and you can try finding him there, and the clue is that it is linked to Mera, the superhero’s lover underwater in the Kingdom of Atlantis. He is the one other actor worth mentioning, and the others just manage to play along at most of time.

How it finishes :: Acceleration is more or less the time-pass action movie which you can watch without spending much time thinking about. There is not much otherwise as far as this movie is concerned. There is enough in this movie to keep you interested as a crime action thriller. But escapism does get the advantage over the other things, and thus this movie is left with not much for the brain. It goes on the lines of many other action thrillers, but doesn’t use those elements of the genre to the best of advantage – but that might not have been needed considering the fact that this movie doesn’t try too hard. It lets everything go accordingly, because with Natalie Burn and Dolph Lundgren in the lead, an action thriller can go on as expected, without attempted to come with something grand. Acceleration accelerates just enough for you, and the escapist entertainment runs on that initial acceleration which is a little boosted at times.

[Gets some friench fries along with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This movie could have been so much more.

Vampire Bat: Yes, they could have used the leading lady to more potential.

Vampire Owl: This is a movie which was not watched by many people, and so, not many people know about it.

Vampire Bat: She surely is perfect for an action movie, don’t you think?

Vampire Owl: Yes, but more as the lady villain rather than as the heroine.

Vampire Bat: There is no question about the fact that she looks quite lethal with the action sequences and more.

Vampire Owl: I never knew that Hollywood has such actresses custom made for such roles.

Vampire Bat: We didn’t know that there would be Corona Virus either.

Vampire Owl: There are so many things that we don’t know.

Vampire Bat: Well, knowledge doesn’t come with immortality. You have to read a lot to come up with that.

[Vanishes into the shadows behind the oak tree].

Release date: 8th November 2019
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Michael Merino, Daniel Zirilli
Starring: Natalie Burn, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Liddell, Sean Patrick Flanery, Danny Trejo, Dobromir Mashukov

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

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<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

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<— Click here to go to the first Serbian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Ukrainian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

15 Minutes of War

Vampire Owl: This is till longer than our last war against the werewolves.

Vampire Bat: That was not a war, but an ideological difference problem.

Vampire Owl: Okay, then what about the war against the zombies?

Vampire Bat: There has never been a direct war with the zombies.

Vampire Owl: You are denying the existence of life-threatening situations.

Vampire Bat: I am only denying its status as something it is not, and not its existence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, what is this particular war about?

Vampire Bat: The movie itself is about a hostage situation and not a war.

Vampire Owl: It seems that nobody got time for a real war.

Vampire Bat: Yes, everybody is busy with the war against the Corona virus which seems to be a long and tiresome process.

[Gets a vanilla cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: In February 1976 in French controlled Djibouti, a school bus suddenly sees a number of gunmen and is taken hostage. After continuing to drive to the border of Djibouti attempting to cross the Somalian border, only to be stopped just before that, as the border security forces of Djibouti shoots it on the wheels, leading to them to halt just before the border, with the Somalian forces looking on from the other side, ready for anything including a full shootout with their neighbours. A negotiation doesn’t seem to be possible, as they intend to take the bus to the other side of the border. The terrorists won’t show any mercy as they don’t care about the children at all because they are white, and are most probably all French. They would be happy to see some of them dead, and didn’t care if the kids are hungry or not. This creates a crisis on both sides of the border, with each second being important.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Francois Simon (Claudio Dos Santos), the bus driver is asked to inform the military and police that any attempt to come near the bus will lead to the death of the kids. Jane Andersen (Olga Kurylenko), one of the teachers of the students’ class rushed to the scene evading the barricades, and asks the terrorists to let her help the children, as they let her stay on the bus as long as she doesn’t create any trouble there. This becomes a crisis which is to be dealt with extreme care, as the life of children are at stake. Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale a.k.a GIGN, an elite police force from Paris specialized in counter-terrorism and hostage rescue reaches there with the intention of freeing the school bus with zero hostilities among children. They are lead by Andre Gerval (Alban Lenoir) who decides to hide behind the rocks around the bus, and wait for the signal from Paris. But will that be coming in time?

The defence of 15 Minutes of War :: It has to be noted that the movie doesn’t even take fifteen minutes to begin the initiation of action with the school bus abduction happening so early. The situation of the hostages and the terrorists are presented well, and the movie is always in control regarding the same. Saving innocent children from terrorists and criminals never really loss its value in movies, for having little kids in the captivity of cruel, remorseless men with guns is something that has everyone tensed, even those who do not care about the movies of this genre. The location has some nice visuals with the shades of the sand having one green bus in the centre. The action is all nicely done, and the tension has been built really well. The final shooting is something which has us at the edge of the seat, and as there is a large amount of uncertainty in play here, 15 Minutes of War has us hoping for the special skill or at least the miracle or luck to help the kids.

The claws of flaw :: Most of the big action, as said in the title is limited to the last fifteen minutes or rather been ten and fifteen minutes here. The movie doesn’t really rush around here, and there is a certain amount slowness that we can find, as it changes focus towards people outside the bus a little more than expected – it should have kept more within the bus unless there were some plans being made about the possible attack on the bus to kill the terrorists and free the children. There are movies which have dealt with the hostage crisis even better, when we look back further, and they had all focused more on where the hostages were held, and in this case, that was even more needed. Some people can choose to be on the side of the terrorists citing reasons from the past, but anyone who holds children at gunpoint to get what they want can only be pure evil, and someone creating terror on the innocents will be called by one name only.

Performers of the soul :: When the Olga Kurylenko is attached to a title, you feel that it could be an interesting thriller, for the Bond girl from Quantum of Solace has been a name associated with some of the most entertaining titles. From the video game shooters made into cinema like Hitman and Max Payne, to Centurion from the past and Oblivion in the future, both history and science fiction had some fine movies for her. Johnny English Strikes Again had her with the gun in a different way while The Courier had her back to action thrillers. We now await more of interesting titles with her in the lead, like The Translators, Empires of the Deep and The Bay of Silence, all supposed to have their own dosage of thrills. If you go in between, you will see Mara and The Emperor of Paris. So, there is not doubt about her skills in movies like these, and she continues her fine form. Alban Lenoir is the next one to catch our attention, and he is very good here.

How it finishes :: Originally titled L’intervention, the movie makes another fine French war thriller which will catch your attention by keeping the tension going, with a thrilling beginning itself. Well, when you see a school bus with white children in what seems to be an African country, and you have also seen that this is an action movie with a hostage crisis right in the middle – that is a heads up with only a few seconds advantage, as the movie takes you on the bus with the children so well. There has been the absence of movies featuring hostage crisis well enough, and this one does manage to solve that absence up to an extent. This is also among the three movies of Olga Kurylenko which I watched in the recent past, and I have to say that all of these have been eight plus out of ten movies for me, and that would make me consider the leading lady as one safe bet as far as movies are considered, both English and French in language spoken.

Release date: 30th January 2019
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Fred Grivois
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Alban Lenoir, Kevin Layne, Michael Abiteboul, Sebastien Lalanne, David Murgia, Guillaume Labbe, Vincent Perez, Josiane Balasko

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kidnapping Stella

Vampire Owl: So, these people have made a movie about just one kidnapping?

Vampire Bat: You are saying that one won’t be enough?

Vampire Owl: No, I am saying that it can be like a vampire movie made out of one blood-sucking event, which won’t be enough.

Vampire Bat: It is a remake of the 2009 British thriller movie, The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Vampire Owl: Okay, the one starring Gemma Arterton, the lady vampire from Byzantium.

Vampire Bat: The whole vampire team is indebted to her for the work in that movie.

Vampire Owl: It is my second favourite vampire movie after Interview with the Vampire.

Vampire Bat: If you add Let Me In, it could go to the third spot.

Vampire Owl: Do you realize that you haven’t reviewed a full-length German movie yet?

Vampire Bat: Yes, but there has been a short-film which left enough for us to think about.

[Gets an vancho cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: There is some big preparation going on with the two former convicts named Vic (Clemens Schick) and Tom (Max von der Groeben) getting something ready inside a building, just before they get prepared to commit some crime. Stella (Jella Haase), the only child of a wealthy businessman is their target, as they hope to become rich with the money of her father. This act and the resulting ransom is supposed to make sure that they won’t have to go to work for a long time. For this, they come up with some very careful planning, and leave no chance for them to escape, as they undress her and keeps her in a red tracksuit, blindfold her, tie her to a bed, and keeps her in a soundproof room, with no chance for her to even move more than al ittle. To conceal their identities, the two also wear masks while talking to her. There is a certain amount of risk involved with her knowing their identities, because she is pregnant with Tom’s child, as they were in love some time ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Stella tries hard to escape from her bondage, but there is no positive result for those attempts, as far as she is concerned. Tom does have a soft corner for her as he comes to know that she is pregnant only at a later moment when they threaten to cut off one of her fingers in front of the camera, while making a video which is to be shown to her father so that he would finally agree to give the ransom money to them. But the problem here is that during one of those vulnerable moments, she finds out that one of the kidnappers is Tom, and almost manages to overpower him to get hold of the gun. But Tom handles that situation as well as a few others which follow. Soon, Vic starts to have some doubts about Tom and Stella, as he is no longer the person whom he met in the prison – he is not sure if Tom can be trusted either. Now, it is to be seen how the two manage to keep the situation going. Can they get the money, or will the girl end up being dead? What will be the priority for Tom now, as he knows that she is pregnant with his child?

The defence of Kidnapping Stella :: You will notice that Kidnapping Stella, just like The Disappearance of Alice Creed and its earlier remake Reckless, doesn’t waste its time in getting into action. There are a few minutes when nobody talks about anything, and then we are quickly into the action when the girl is kidnapped and tied up without any chance to escape even from the bed where she is tied up. We do not have any subplot to take the focus away from the main thing, and even though there is a possibility of some flashback, we never really go towards it. You do have some twists, even though not used to the full effectiveness. A kidnapping scenario is also shown without any pretensions, and without showing it as someone who is locked in a random room giving them an easy journey throughout the abduction. The kidnapping programme is quite a solid one, and even though becoming only the third version of the same tale, you have to appreciate them doing this situation well enough here along with maintaining the thrills.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched The Disappearance of Alice Creed or its Dutch remake, there is nothing much that you can find here to keep you interested, because you have seen all these in more critically appreciated movies, and the performers who have gained better applause not just in one film, but also many others. This movie also doesn’t seem to have gathered that much of an attention or appreciation as those movies which released much earlier. This one is also quite slow at parts, and for a movie which doesn’t have that much of a run-time, it is definitely a strange thing, no matter how you look at it. The movie could have used some more intense moments to make things feel better. As most of the movie is set within a small area, there was scope to bring more. When you have a film with kidnap as the main thing or rather the only thing, you would expect that something else would be there to be taken. There is always the chance for improvement as far as remakes are concerned, but we doubt if that chance was even thought about here.

Performers of the soul :: One cannot deny the fact that this movie misses someone like Gemma Arterton who has been one class actress in different roles, the best of them that we remember being Byzantium, the highly underrated and under-watched vampire movie coming from the director of the highly appreciated Interview with the Vampire. We can only guess that it would have been a fantastic performance. Jella Haase is pretty much okay as the kidnapped girl, but she doesn’t seem to raise that bar that much. The two kidnappers are actually very good though, and Clemens Schick as Vic, the tougher one comes up with a work that will make us attached to the situation here. Max von der Groeben as Tom, the guy who is caught between two sides also have our attention – he wants to do more than one thing, as there is the need to save his former lover and their unborn baby along with getting all that money from her father. There is no other character here, and these three makes the performers list fully.

How it finishes :: The movie originates from The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a 2009 British movie, which also had another remake in the form a Dutch movie named Reckless. From the reviews which we have read about this version here might be the film with the lowest rating, while the other two movies seem to be quite ahead. But for most of us who haven’t watched those two movies because we never really had much of an experience with Dutch movies and as the British movie was released a long time ago, Kidnapping Stella is going to be an interesting experience. There are enough thrills around there, and it surely feels more than the usual hostage movie. Matching The Disappearance of Alice Creed was always going to be a tough task, as it had Gemma Arterton who has been in all kinds of movies with all the glory, a performer who is difficult to match. You are free to watch all the three versions in different European languages and decide the best for yourself if you feel the need to disagree. Otherwise, you can just enjoy this newer version.

Release date: 12th July 2019
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Sieben
Starring: Clemens Schick, Jella Haase, Max von der Groeben

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Furie

Vampire Owl: This surely sounds like fury with the original spelling.

Vampire Bat: There is another movie with this title in English itself.

Vampire Owl: So, you are beginning to explore other language.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one is Vietnamese, and other languages will follow.

Vampire Owl: Does this remind you of any of your previous journeys to East Asia.

Vampire Bat: No, the journeys were to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. None of them are the same.

Vampire Owl: So, this doesn’t bring much of those memories back?

Vampire Bat: Well, those memories are not going to return. The trips have all ended with the Corona Virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, a Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos trip should happen at some point.

Vampire Bat: It might come a long time later, and that would mean many years later.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Hai Phuong (Veronica Ngo) is a former gangster who used to belong to a powerful family in the city, but is now living in the city with her daughter Mai (Cat Vy), working as a debt collector, while she used her skills in vovinam, a Vietnamese martial arts from. With the kid’s father having died a long time ago, she is having a hard time, as both the mother and the child are harassed due to the kid being born out of wedlock, and also because the mother is a debt collector who is seen as a continuous trouble maker. Mai wishes to stop going to school and start a fish farm with her mother, so that they won’t be bullied again, not at the school and not at the market or the streets. But one day, after having a verbal fight with her daughter, Hai finds Mai being kidnapped by some men, and she follows them through road, but can only see them taking her away on a boat, and then into a transport to Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hai is returning to the the most populous city in Vietnam, and the capital of the former state South Vietnam after a long time, this time, not as a gangster, but as a mother looking for her daughter who was kidnapped. With no clue about where to search, she asks her former gang members to help, but they refuse help because things did undergo some change around there, and the power balance has shifted – not helping them would be the best for the safety. As he approaches the police, she finds them not good enough, but she does manage to steal the reports of some criminals who could be related to the case of missing children. Detective Luong (Phan Thanh Nhien) is in charge of the cases related to the missing children, but she just misses him. There seems to be a big international gang working behind this, and it could also have a link to her notorious past. Now, can she survive and manage to find her daughter in time?

The defence of Furie :: There is a high dose of action here, provided from the beginning to the end, without any break. All the action sequences are too good, and at the same time believable, taking the best out of the Vietnamese martial arts. We only have the realistic moves here though, with no bodies flying around like in some third-rate superstar movie that we know. We are amazed by the leading lady’s skills in performing action as well as depicting the feelings so well. There is the final action scene on a train, which has been taken in the best possible way. The emotions are also running high, and there is the raw beauty of rural Vietnam as well as the charming style of Ho Chi Minh City. We have those shots from a distance and from the heights, as we get caught in those visuals. We do manage to have a fine chase or two in between here. Furie is a thrilling ride, and we are with a mother in this one, like we were with a father in Taken and its sequels – she is also John Wick of another kind. This is a fine movie to begin your love with Vietnam.

Positives and negatives :: Furie is more or less a full martial arts movie which depends on the same to keep things interesting, taking out John Wick‘s shootout side completely. It is also a tale of redemption, but you need to like the action elements to fall in love with the movie. This is also an amazingly stylish movie, not just with the action, but also with the visuals. You can see the difference between the city and village life, enjoying the beauty of both. With a movie like this, action had to click, and it does, amazingly well, as you are kept on the edge of the seat. If you have watched the Malayalam movie Thira, you will know that it had to be thrilling, but that one never had the need for action sequences, but Furie needed it, and with a desperate mother in the main role, nails it. The chase scenes and the brutal fights will keep this one going strong. The fights are not only on the ground, but also on trains, boats and motor-bikes, as the environment also contributes to making this feel better. The flashbacks give a better idea of the story, but at times, they are redundant.

Performers of the soul :: It is Veronica Ngo who steals the show throughout this movie, with her martial arts moves. There is something that you don’t usually see with the fight scenes as long as she is around. She was there in one of the Star Wars movies, but not noticed much because it was a smaller role. The other main characters are also female, except for a police officer and some others who seem to come into picture for shorter intervals of time. Most of them are there only to get beaten up by her, as the lesser troopers of the evil side. Tran Thanh Hoa plays the antagonist, and she also has her smart moves with some nice action sequences to go with it. Phan Thanh Nhien has a few of them, and is there in a supporting role, after he comes to the picture rather late. Pham Anh Khoa has a smaller, but noticable role to play, and so does the one who plays the nurse at the hospital. The main characters in the village markets are all female too. Cat Vy who plays the daughter is also a fine child actor as proven here.

How it finishes :: Furie is a high quality movie from Vietnam, and it is the first, as well as the only Vietnamese movie which I have watched. This is the kind of movie which has you a lot interested in the movie from the beginning to the end, never wishing to take your eyes off, as you will end up missing the action. The movie was the Vietnamese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. Among the foreign movies that we watch from here, this movie should have a higher status, and something above the rest of the movies from East Asia. Vietnam surely scores with that, and there is the need to focus on some more of the movies from this nation which makes some very interesting movies along with being a tourism destination that everyone should be visiting. I also had a plan to visit the place, but that didn’t work out – with the Corona Virus problem going on and on, I will have to be satisfied with what can be seen in this wonderful movie.

Release date: 22nd February 2019
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Le Van Kiet
Starring: Veronica Ngo, Cat Vy, Phan Thanh Nhien, Pham Anh Khoa, Tran Thanh Hoa

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Te3n

te3n (2)

Vampire Owl :: Remakes and remakes – this trend is going on and on…

Vampire Bat :: This one is an official remake though, with the copyrights for the movie officially purchased from the South Korean thriller Montage, as mentioned.

Vampire Owl :: I would give extra points for that. What I really don’t like are those blind copies without telling anybody else.

Vampire Bat :: Like when you hear that Ek Villain is from I Saw the Devil and Zinda from Oldboy?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, a fair remake is the right remake.

Vampire Bat :: That makes us choose this movie other the others for the weekend.

Vampire Owl :: The fact that we are not watching The Conjuring 2 this weekend will be highly disappointing to Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Bat :: And the fact that we won’t be watching Warcraft can even trigger an Orc invasion on the Vampire Lands.

Vampire Owl :: We need to warn the rest of the team immediately! After watching the movie, of course!

Vampire Bat :: Lets go and check how well the remade thriller stands then!

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn and vegetable puffs].

What is it about? :: John Biswas (Amitabh Bachchan) is an old man who visits the police station almost every day much to the dismay of Sarita Sarkar (Vidya Balan) who tells him that there is no point in doing that for a case which was investigated eight years ago. John is looking to find the kidnapper and murderer of his granddaughter who was abducted by a man who demanded twenty lakhs, but even after the money was delivered, he didn’t get the girl alive. He keeps trying to find the man who is responsible for the same, and keeps searching for clues despite his ill health, making his wheel chair ridden wife Nancy Biswas (Padmavati Rao) a lot worried. Another disheartened person is Inspector Martin Das (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who joined the seminary and has become a priest, trying to make spiritual amends for his inability to save the kidnapped little girl, Angela.

So what happens next? :: John knows that police will no longer proceed with the same case, and so he asks the help of the new priest, Father Martin Das, but he himself asks John to let go and try to attend the church services some time as one has to accept things as they are, when nothing comes out of the struggle. Martin doesn’t want to be reminded of his guilt of not doing a better job with the case, but things take a twist when another kid is abducted. The way of kidnapping this boy is the same as what happened with Angela, and he is consulted by the police for he was so close in catching the culprit last time. Despite the initial hesitation, he decides to help Sarita with the case. There are no suspects here though, just the hope that the kidnapper can be outsmarted this time, unlike what had happened with the case of Angela. Martin will have his second chance here, but is he good enough for it this time?

The defence of Te3n :: There are a number of movies which Te3n reminds you of, with its style – one of them is the Malayalam movie Memories, and another one is the earlier thriller featuring Amitabh Bachchan – Wazir. There is the deep feeling of sadness prevailing in all these movies, and there is one hurt police officer in each of these. The sadness is the first thing that gets you, with the two main characters hoping against hope, one to find the evil, and the other to keep himself from evil. The emotions are deep, even though not shown on the screen as some terrible Bollywood melodrama; the rest comes later. The intensity goes to a higher level and thrills get stronger, and the suspense is maintained till the end. With some power-packed performances and beautiful visuals, this one touches emotions and also becomes an interesting thriller. When people die, it is the living that suffers the most, and we feel that abiding sadness throughout this movie.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does take some time to get into its thrilling side, and it also doesn’t follow the usual Bollywood style – neither in drama or with its thriller side; it won’t be the movie for the usual masala fans, that is for sure. There is no super-cop here, and we have just the worried people hoping to go through this problem in front of them. The movie could have actually used its central idea with bigger twists, and even though they are there, the big shock isn’t there. Still, there could have been a better flow to the proceedings. The situation demanded things to go straight, rather than depending too much on the flashbacks which arrive at times when they were not required – the time-line of the movie surely could have used some work. A little bit of polishing here and there – maybe that was all that this movie really needed to make it rise a level up, and a certain funny side was there to be taken – but that is left untouched.

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui completely steals the show there. The former plays a character that reminds us of the one he played in Wazir, helpless against the person who killed his child, but finds a way, and is also friends with a police officer who is also going through a case of depression. With his wife in a wheel chair, riding all around hopelessly on an old scooter that starts at occasions, bothering the cops and doing all his household activities by himself, the legendary actor plays a character whose sadness and never-dying hope is the first thing that we feel, and it will stir our emotions like nothing else. He makes us feel everything; for John Biswas is a simple common man looking for justice with hope. The latter goes through another path of his particular character though, as Martin Das looks to accept things by turning into spirituality. This character is strong in his hands, as he looks well-suited for both sides of Martin. Vidya Balan is left with a lesser role though.

How it finishes :: A comparison with the original can’t be made here, as I am sure that a lot of people haven’t watched the South Korean thriller. But it is surely better than the usual stuff that Bollywood has provided in the name of entertainment, which is why people who don’t feel the need to use the brains here, are to be warned from watching this particular flick. The idea is already proved working with an original work which seems to have had a nice reception. The one doubt that people had to have was about how the adaptation would work in an Indian scenario, and I am pretty sure that this has been remade well enough – I don’t doubt the fact that it could have been even better, still this is what we require, and not that mass masala entertainers. When we watch and support movies like this one, that becomes the inspiration for better thrillers to be made, maybe even original ones!

Release date: 10th June 2016
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Ribhu Dasgupta
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vidya Balan, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Padmavati Rao

te3n

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Highway

highwayy

The eternal wait :: The one question that I had to ask myself is “On the second day of October, what did the movie Besharam give to me”? It did take away seventy rupees, but I am not talking about that. The answer is a lack of interest in Hindi movies since that Gandhi Jayanthi had come up with terror which had me watch no Hindi movie at all for almost five months (yes, not even on the television). So, it was a necessity that I wait for sometime so that such disaster won’t happen too soon. But there is no denying the fact that I almost watched Jai Ho, but the show was housefull. There are not many movies that have been as hyped as Highway despite having no big male star right in the middle of the story. I always knew that the best thing would be to watch my next Bollywood movie in the form of Highway rather than any other. There have been so much talks about this movie like “what is it going to be?”, “what story will it tell?”, “Alia Bhatt should be so awesome in it, so its a sure watch?”, “isn’t it about Stockholm syndrome?” and so on. The Vampire Bat had heard so much or rather too much about the movie, and he finally decided to fly to the theatre on a motor-bike.

What is it about? :: Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhatt) is kidnapped just before her wedding as she goes on a night ride with her fiancee trying to keep away the pressures and tension of the big function. She is kidnapped by a group of criminals as they stop at a petrol pump. But as the gang realizes that she is the daughter of a rich and powerful man with links to the government, police and the army, they decide to cancel their plans. But Mahabir Bhati (Randeep Hooda) is not ready to give up as he takes her on a road trip away from the place so that they won’t be tracked. Even as she is initially bound and gagged by them, Veera gets more and more comfortable with her captors, and a bond develops between Mahabir and her. She feels free even as she is a captive, and feels so happy. She even refuses to escape when there is chance and feels that she should be with him for so much longer. She herself says that she doesn’t want the journey to end, as she has no desire to go back or go where the journey ends. But how long till her people finds them and the travel diary is put to a quick end?

The defence of Highway :: Most of the Keralites should remember a pseudo-travel movie with the long name Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and a big drag which begins with about fifteen minutes into it and ends only when the story finishes. Highway is far ahead of that one in almost all aspects, the most important ones being the acting and the visuals. Highway is a visually superior movie with its awesome locations, especially as it has succeeded in capturing the beauty of the paradise which is Kashmir. The beauty of nature becomes more and more joyful to watch as the movie moves on to the latter part of the second half, and it gets stronger and stronger by the time it reaches the end. Its messages of finding oneself and reaching beyond one’s fear are also stronger than ever. It’s use of the two protagonists, a man and woman, both having traumatic childhood works so well to touch our hearts. There is so much honesty in the way these are portrayed too, as there is no addition of stupid masala which makes worthless movies super-hits.

The claws of flaw :: The movie drags a lot, and shows potential to keep dragging. From the beginning itself, the movie seems to make the viewers feel that there is not much to come, even as it is wrong. The character of the lady protagonist is rather too far-fetched to make one believe. She seems rather crazy at times (loosely reminding us of the semi-kidnapped lady protagonist of the Malayalam movie Kilukkam), and her attachment towards a criminal who keeps threatening her comes rather too soon. Except for one or two songs which are okay, the music fails to get the attention of the viewers, and there are times when they come when not needed. There is also the use of other languages or may be variations of Hindi which was rather difficult to follow. There was the need for subtitles at least in it comes rather South. The movie takes one away from any kind of usual entertainment which is usually looked for in such a flick. It won’t give anyone the exaggeration that they might look for in a love story as this keeps that side plain and simple.

Performers of the soul :: Well, most of us won’t identify the faces in the movie other than that of Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt. The former (he is the reason why I lament missing John Day which had only one late night show here – who cares for good thrillers with non-superstars who can act, right?) comes up with a powerful performance of brilliance, even as there are less dialogues for him; we can strongly believe that this portrayal by him will be appreciated. We can surely expect a lot more from him. Alia Bhatt is there as the centre of everything, right from the beginning to the end. Even as there is some struggle, she seems to be custom made for the role, seeming to be in so much ease with her character. There are occasions when one would wonder if she does rather too much or a lot more than needed, but that should have come with the character. It is hard to believe that this is only her second movie, and I had missed her first one, Student of the Year. She remains incredibly cute throughout the movie and makes it impossible for any other actress to come up with a better performance in such a role soon. She is so dynamic and full of energy that just her presence keeps the whole thing working so well.

Soul exploration :: The movie is the story of two people whose lives get connected by just one act of crime, a kidnap. It comes up with a lot of things to think about, and it remains so close to being a movie of the soul even if not there completely. Even as not all of them remain close to the truths about life, it is evident that there is a clear attempt to bring to the scene as much humanity as possible; not without its troubles, not in the absence of the good side, yet not abandoning the darker side which tries to get closer to the human soul with more power than ever before. Stockholm syndrome is explored from one side while it continues to be a travel diary as a whole. There are realizations being made about life, and it changes both the kidnapper and the kidnapped in a journey which goes on for kilometres. As Saint Augustine of Hippo says “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

How it finishes :: As the movie for which we have been long waiting for, Highway mostly delivers, thanks to the performances of the leading actors, the visuals and the message that it delivers. Despite the drag and the occasional inability to connect, the movie thrives in simplicity and that humanity which are its own Kraken and Leviathan in the huge ocean of movies this weekend. It’s emptiness is not of the soul, but of the physical world, and that is one void that everyone can afford to avoid. As Robert Frost says, when two roads diverge, you have to choose the one less traveled, and here it is Highway, and even as it might not go as expected, this one makes the difference, and there is no doubt about. But let me tell you, happiness is highly subjective, just like the opinions on this movie seems to be – ask Alia Bhatt’s character in Highway and she reiterates money can’t buy you happiness, or even anything close to that. So, if you are making a choice, think about all these factors mentioned above.

Release date: 21st February 2014
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt, Saharsh Kumar Shukla, Pradeep Nagar, Durgesh Kumar, Arjun Malhotra

highway copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.