Mikhael

What is the movie about? :: George Peter (Siddique) is the rich and notorious don of the area who is known to run the family business as well as criminal activities of the city and its surroundings with such energy and enthusiasm that he doesn’t hesistate to kill even police officers according to his will, the latest of them being N Sreenivasan (Kishore) who dared to arrest him in front of the public. When a new investigating officer Easa (JD Chakravarthi) is appointed in his place with Issac (Suraj Venjaramoodu) to assist him, the hunt for the mafia ruling the city gets stronger. It is then that the headless body of George is found along with his right-hand man, brutally murdered. Then the man who mediates between two rival gangs, Patrick (Kalabhavan Shajohn) is also shot by someone. This brings trouble with gang wars ready to break out.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: With George’s brother Marco Jr (Unni Mukundan) coming to the scene, and Francis Davi (Sudev Nair) from the opposite gang trying to have his own vengeance, the police department is kept on his toes. All these seem to point to one man, doctor of the nearby Starcare hospital called Mikhael John (Nivin Pauly) who seems to have a long story to tell about his family and how it came across George. He is the man who seems to be responsible for the death of George and Patrick, but the question remains about what Marco Jr will do about that, with going to police and assuring law and justice, not being an option for him. Easa and Issac will be happy to see the rival gangs fighting each other, or someone murdering the gangsters, but how long can the police department keep away from the scene? Will there be vengeance and can there be justice?

The defence of Mikhael :: The movie is high on style and action sequences, but one can note that it never really goes too far, as it keeps away from elements like flying villains, hero who knows everything before it happens, and all. The music is mostly good and at times excellent, with very few exceptions that we can notice. There are those mass elements, but they are kept in control unlike The Great Father and Abrahaminte Santhathikal which had the same director’s hands firmly on them in one way or the other, or Masterpiece which had so much of the same – the heroism as well as the whole story itself is far more believable, and has better and smarter twists with this one. The thrills are present all the time, and the emotional side works pretty well. The visual style is very nice, and the same rises above the rest. The dialogues are powerful, and Mikhael is a movie that doesn’t hesitate to come up with some moments which are above a normal movie in the industry.

The claws of flaw :: There are times when style gets over substance in this movie too, as The Great Father and Abrahaminte Santhathikal also did. We also see too many similarities with former, with a school being at the centre of attraction, and one girl who is dear to the protagonist – fighting for her becomes the priority for the protagonist. The slow motion could have been reduced, and the interest in sunglasses for some characters continues to be strange. The first half also takes some time to get into the main idea, and we also see the presence of predictability here, with the protagonist and antagonist coming close to facing each other. The ladies don’t have much to do in this movie either, except for the girl who sets everything moving. You can see that some moments were added just for the sake of adding them, and inspirations from foreign movies are certainly there.

The performers of the soul :: It is up to Nivin Pauly to rise and stay at the top, and he manages to do that well – still, his best moments were when his character was a family man, with vulnerability, but it was surely nice to see him in a different avatar, extending what he showed in Action Hero Biju. He does show that he is good at them all, and in a movie which has substance rising over style will surely have him shining better. There are the two qualities of Michael shown by Christina Rossetti with her poem on the angels – service & strength, as doctor & martial arts expert here. One the other side is Unni Mukundan who plays the main antagonist towards the end, and we remember him playing just the opposite in the movie Style – with Tovino as his villain; here he has to face the same thing, even though stylish as he is, with less space on the screen, and not getting the best of dialogues when there was scope for a lot of the same. He should have been given the opportunity to be a more menacing villain rather than showing the muscles. The Luciferesque qualities are seen better with Siddique’s character as Satan against Michael, the leader of heavenly angels – the one who chooses to reign in hell & go against all norms, establishing his own pandemonium. He is the Satan that Milton would keep in his Paradise Lost.

Further performers of the soul :: At the same, Siddique becomes that villain who anyone could have wanted to be – evil and sadistic, going on to reach a state which is nothing less than mentally sick. His ways of tormenting or even finishing off his opponents, and even his dialogues are with that kind of terror that an antagonist can always dream about, and a protagonist can have nightmares about. The girl who played the main character’s sister, a name which hasn’t been known through the early cast list on internet or posters, Navani Devanand also needs some applause as she gets everything right in this movie – she could be a talent to look out for, in the future. She nails all emotions perfectly, whether its anger, sadness or joy. Shantikrishna, Babu Antony, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Ashokan, Baiju and KPAC Lalitha are left with not much to do here. Manjima Mohan as the heroine doesn’t really have anything to do either, and even Reba Monica John who is there for a few minutes leave better impact. JD Chakravarthi, Sudev Nair and Suraj Venjaramoodu get their nice moments though.

How it finishes :: The whole story of Mikhael here has an allusion to the archangel Michael, the leader of the archangels who lead the battle against Satan, a.k.a. Lucifer and his forces who rebeled against God. As a protector and a fighter against evil, this image is reiterated here by giving the same name to the protagonist, and the images of the angel being shown on multiple spaces – the opposite can be seen through the images displayed in the room of the antagonist. The whole movie is about how the brother becomes the guardian angel for his sister, vanquishing the evil forces – with the same, we have the style, all the action, thrills and twists which keep coming at regular intervals; surprisingly, there is also the presence of some funny side. This one might not be the favourite for the family audience, but is surely one nice entertainer which successfully defends its territory within the genre.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Haneef Adeni
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Unni Mukundan, Navani Devanand, Manjima Mohan, JD Chakravarthi, Sudev Nair, Babu Antony, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Siddique, Renji Panicker, Shantikrishna, Kalabhavan Shajohn, KPAC Lalitha, Amal Shah, V Jayaprakash, Kishore, Reba Monica John, Baiju

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pulimurugan

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know that the Vampire Crocodile and the Vampire Penguin failed to get tickets for this movie?

Vampire Bat :: It was never part of their skills. You have seen their CVs.

Vampire Owl :: But we had assigned them to cinema ticket duty.

Vampire Bat :: It is absurd. Nobody on Earth gets tickets for Pulimurugan in the first attempt.

Vampire Owl :: But this is our first attempt and we are getting them.

Vampire Bat :: We have been trying this indirectly in many forms though.

Vampire Owl :: Like transforming into mist and other strange things?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, among those large number of tricks which Count Dracula had taught us during those special classes.

Vampire Owl :: Very risky ones though.

Vampire Bat :: You need them to get a chance to watch movies like this one.

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: The tale is set in the fictional village of Puliyoor, named as the lands of the tiger, as it is consistently haunted by predators which come out of the forest. When these creatures attack them, they turn to Murugan (Mohanlal), a.k.a. Pulimurugan to become their saviour. Murugan lives with his wife, Myna (Kamalinee Mukherjee), their one daughter and his younger brother Manikkuttan (Vinu Mohan). His best friend and help is Balaraman (Lal) who helps him in being the hunter that he is. One day, he comes across Benny (Nobi) and Shiva (Bala) who are Manikkuttan’s friends, and are looking for his help. By providing them help, he will get closer to a man called Daddy Girija (Jagapati Babu) who is not the person whom Murugan thinks he is. He also locks horns with Krishnakumar (Kishore), and his number of enemies only increase as the movie comes to an end.

The defence of Pulimurugan :: From a long time ago, nothing has changed – Pulimurugan has been the talk of the town months before its release, and that remains the same even now, as shows run full with fans, youth, families and the lone watchers. Mohanlal makes sure that this one stays afloat all the time. Here is something that has tried the best to keep the overall quality high, as Pulimurugan undoubtedly looks really nice on the big screen. There is no shortage of visually stunning moments here, and almost everything has been well-captured. It is indeed great to see the action sequences which are without doubt of high quality, especially in the final moments. When they say that this is not something which hasn’t been seen before, they are not really joking about the same. It might be what you can choose to agree with, sans second thoughts.

Claws of flaw :: The expectations are indeed running high, and with this one hundred crore tag added, people are sure to feel the need for something huge. The tag of the “mass movie” is an abomination, because that specific classification itself is a lie which is used to cater to brainless people – no, Pulimurugan is not brainless, for its smartness is evident. Still, Pulimurugan has some of the most ridiculous sequences, especially the ones involving Namitha, and one involving Mohanlal lifting Vinu Mohan – along with these, there are some terrible comedy scenes which become a curse on this movie. There are also a little bit too much of unnecessary additions in the fine action sequences in the end. The songs are not that interesting, and the theme music is terrible, not original, and also not suiting the movie as a whole. The movie is the best when in the forest, and it should have stuck to that and its creatures – beyond that, with human villains of cities and towns, its not that much there.

Performers of the soul :: It is a Mohanlal show all the way, as we see him stretching beyond the limits to breathe more and more life to this character. He has brought this character close to us, and he has done the same with no problems at all – you see hard work here too, and there is a lot of it. Pulimurugan‘s female stars disappoint though, whether it is Kamalini Mukherjee whose character is more irrititating than anything else, or Namitha who is wasted from the very first moment of her existence, we see nothing positive from the female cast, and that is depressing without doubt. The truth is that even if they were not here, there was not going to be any change happening to the tale – Pulimurugan could have existed as the same man, especially with his own people of the village to care about. But the ladies are there, and they contribute nothing much positive.

Further performers of the soul :: It is absurd that there is nothing much with movie’s female department. Lal plays Mohanlal’s second-in-command, and he does his role with no trouble at all. After Mohanlal, he is the next person we are happy to see in this movie. Jagapati Babu is okay here as the antagonist, as the tiger becomes the one true enemy. Vinu Mohan does not much, and Bala has a rather predictable character here. Nobi has some fun moments, and Suraj Venjaramoodu has more, but none of them working this time here. There are a few others who came in smaller roles, but caught our attention – they are Siddique, Sudheer Karamana and Kishore. Hareesh Peradi is added to play another unnecessary character – there are too many of them here, that is for sure. We could have had less such characters and the existing ones having better things to do.

How it finishes :: This is the time when Pulimurugan has gone on to become the first Malayalam movie to get the collections over a hundred crore, and at the same time, the other Mohanlal movie in the theatre, Oppam gets to overtake Premam and become the third highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, after our movie here, and Drishyam. It is certainly the best of times, and Malayalam movies have been climbing up the ladder by a very long way. It feels great to have another golden age for the industry back here at this time. Lets hope that Pulimurugan scores even more, and also that there are other movies to follow, and get to the special one hundred crore club which should be expanded soon enough! May the strength be with these movies, and those special ones which are to follow in the next few months. Still, Drishyam is better by some way, no doubt about it.

Release date: 7th October 2016
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Mohanlal, Kamalini Mukherjee, Lal, Jagapati Babu, Vinu Mohan, Nobi, Bala, Siddique, Kishore, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Namitha, Nandhu, Sudheer Karamana, Makarand Deshpande, Hareesh Peradi, Sasi Kalinga, Sethulakshmi, M. R. Gopakumar, Baby Durga Premjith, Master Ajas, Santhosh Keezhattoor (cameo), Antony Perumbavoor (cameo), Anjali Aneesh Upasana (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Arrambam

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✠ Before I go on with this one, I have to tell you that October was the month with the most visits for this blog, for which I wish to thank each one of you. My other two blogs also had a fantastic beginning to the month of November, even as I can’t say the same about this one. I also wish all of my readers a very Happy Deepavali (Diwali) and a belated Kerala Piravi Day and a very belated Happy Halloween. I should have wished with the earlier post, but it was written a lot earlier and I didn’t want to mess up with it. I hope you had three wonderful days, October 31st, November 1st, and yesterday the 2nd. Coming back to this week’s choices of movies, this really is a dull week, with no Hollywood releases coming this way and no Malayalam movie releases at all. With that sadness concerning the beginning of a month which didn’t have a good start as Ender’s Game didn’t come this way as expected, I have to take you back to the legendary vampire after my journey to the local theatre to watch another movie, this time a Tamil action thriller flick.

Count Dracula: So you are back. I had checked and found no good English movies this weekend. Did you watch that guy who flies like Superman and acts like Man of Steel and fights an army of mutants including a Professor X – Magneto hybrid, Mystique, Miss Wolverine, Juggernaut, Toad etc? Did you enjoy that movie which should rather be titled as Superman vs X-Men?

Vampire Bat: No, why would you think so? I had seen the trailer and observed its inability right there. I am not a Hritik Roshan fan, a little kid or someone with no other option. Neither do I get free tickets for any movie. It showed that it had no potential from its poor trailer with some graphics which is inferior to Arrambam, a movie which doesn’t need CGI support at all.

Count Dracula: I heard that Koi Mil Gaya is a shameless copy of E.T. and Krrish is just a pathetic excuse to cash in the power of a man who has given us so many better roles. At a time when actors like Arshad Warsi and John Abraham are choosing the right movies, it is a shame that one of the best looking actors had to go with this one.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after watching Besharam, I had decided that I shall not be part of such shamelessness For the same reason, I didn’t watch Boss which was the remake of one of the most pathetic movies in Malayalam. Some bad movies do teach us lessons. Arrambam is the good result of that lesson which was provided with the pain which was Besharam, and I guess I am looking forward to a few more Tamil movies soon.

Count Dracula: So what has it got? You rarely watch a Tamil movie. Anniyan was your favourite, and you watched ony two this year; David and Maryan – see my memory? I never get to use it these days and its nice you keep it working by coming here and talking about these movies of the soul.

Vampire Bat: Let the brain of blood work, as the story revolves around Ashok Kumar (Ajith), a former member of anti-terrorist squad, who is on a mission to avenge the death of his friend due to faulty bullet proof jackets which are provided to security forces – but he was imprisoned and left for dead along with his friends and family. He is supported by his lover Maya (Nayanthara) and a smart, but reluctant computer hacker Arjun (Arya). When the latter feels that he is doing something very bad, and is left with no choice as they keep his lover Anitha (Taapsee Pannu) at gunpoint, he lets the police know and Ashok is arrested after a bomb blast and a car chase. The remaining story deals with him taking revenge on the corrupt Home Minister (Mahesh Manjrekar) and his supporter and the senior police officer (Atul Kulkarni) who were involved in the scam.

Count Dracula: That should remind you of Kamal Haasan’s best Malayalam movie, Chanakyan. Wasn’t that the day you said Urmila Matondkar is the best looking actress of the time after watching that in a VCR? It dealt with one man taking revenge on the politician who destroyed his family, using electronic gadgets and a reluctant helper.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but this is different in a number of ways. The first thing is that there is that relevant social message at the time of scams and corruption, but not something that would inspire you to the horizon. Then we have Ajith Kumar at his best. This is the first time I watch his movie in the theatre, and I can say the same about Arya. Chanakyan was undoubtedly the intellectually superior movie and it was an extraordinary performance from our legendary actor. This one is more of the entertainer type.

Count Dracula: Well, I love that actor – see how he never seems to get too old; the only other person who doesn’t seem to get old at all is Vijay. How does he manage to stay as a young man wonders me. That reminds me that I have to watch Thuppakki, as some gypsies had told me that it is awesome. Get me a DVD some day.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if I decide to watch that. One has to admire Arya’s performance too, as he provides a lot of fun and lighter moments, even as some of them doesn’t work. But, without him this might not have worked this well. One can’t resist liking Taapsee Pannu, being the cute drama queen of the movie, even as there is the doubt if there was some overdose, and if there was the need to explore that drama in another way. Nayantara is there perfectly suited for the role that she plays. The cast saves the movie, and so does the style.

Count Dracula: So there is style too. I have seen that photo of Ajith riding Ducati, and I have my own reasons to believe that there were cooling glasses, bikes and slow motion. I am pretty good at this stuff, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is a treat for Ajith fans, and none of them should miss this movie. There is the abundance of cooling glass, and there is only one bike, plus the slow motion is comparatively less considering what we see these days. The songs are pretty good too. To add it, Arya doesn’t do his BA Romantics like Ranbir Kapoor did in Besharam for horror, as even in the exaggeration, he keeps his cool, and Taapsee Pannu has a good chemistry with him, that is for sure.

Count Dracula: So tell me what works other than the cast and style. Also tell me what doesn’t work other than the overdose of cooling glass and a little exaggeration.

Vampire Bat: Did I forget Kishore who is strong throughout? Did I forget the good performances of the villains? Add them to the list of positives too. The story starts off well with bomb blasts and a flashback which is romantic to the core, and also funny. The movie has a climax which can give positive or negative feedbacks, but for me, it is slightly on the positive. The first half is undoubtedly better than the second. The flashback story of our main hero is less interesting, and one has to wonder why one has to put a festival into every song – is that because the world is running out of ideas? ninety five percent of the time, it is Holi too.

Count Dracula: I see there is too many things mixed about it. But considering the fact that there has been so many bad superstar masala movies in your own language from Lokpaal, Kammath and Kammath and Sound Thoma to the recently depressing Sringaravelan, I guess this can prove as a lesson about how entertainers can be well made.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but there will still be movies like Besharam, and the shame shall continue in this world of humans, but your universe shall live forever as you don’t have to watch such things. Now, it is the time to go home and have that cup of tea, and therefore until we collide on a hunt again, good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, best of my winged brethren; for now. May the shadows be with you.

Vampire Bat (to himself): This is not a perfect movie, but there is no reason why one shouldn’t watch this movie this weekend, even while claiming that it is nothing new or innovative. This is a wonderful Deepavali gift for the fans of Ajith, and I welcome everyone to the theatres to choose this one over Krrish 3. Still, one question remains about Bollywood movies. Why is it that movies like Shahid and The Lunchbox doesn’t release in local theatres, but those like Besharam, Krrish 3 and Chennai Express does? We are so profit-oriented and the common man needs better brains; hope some zombie gives one to them instead of eating – a much needed sacrifice.

✠ In this battle of heavyweights, Arrambam clearly outweighs as well as outsmarts Krrish 3 with its theme, and it is evident from the kind of audience who are going to watch both movies. But in the box-office, both will be winners, as this is Deepavali and there are no Hollywood movies gaining entrance, and Malayalam movies have kept away. This is my third Tamil movie of the year in the theatres, after David and Maryan – I have to say that there has not been much disappointment related to them, they were all good enough to be watched with one kind of mood or the other. I shall wait for Thor: The Dark World for now, and until then, if you face two choices at once, you know which movie to go for. No, this doesn’t come from an Ajith fan, and for fans this should be a movie which is not to be missed at any cost; for others, this is an entertainer fulled by performances and style; learn from it dear self-proclaimed mass entertainers and masala action flicks, for this movie can teach you many things.

Release date: 31st October 2013
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Vishnuvardhan
Starring: Ajith Kumar, Arya, Nayantara, Taapsee Pannu, Kishore, Mahesh Manjrekar, Atul Kulkarni, Suman Ranganathan, Akshara Gowda

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.