Gundala

What is the movie about? :: In a world of corruption, poverty, exploitation and income inequality, people struggle to keep their lives going forward despite working so hard throughout the day. None of the hardworking people earns enough to provide to their family members. A number of factories in the city make their workers continue their jobs under terrible conditions without paying them much. A boy watches as his father leads his co-workers in protests against the low wages of the factory where they are working, leading to violence beginning between the people and the security guards employed by the corporates. But the workers bribed by their bosses kill the leader, much to the dismay of the son who witnesses the sequence of events. The worst is that the boy is also struck by lightning and develops a fear for the dark clouds and rain – along with the same, his mother who had left for the city also doesn’t come back, leaving him to live in the streets with no hope to pay the rent for the house. There, he is regularly attacked by other street children.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The boy who is consistently beaten up for trying to help others, finds a helper who teaches him how to defend against others, an advices him to stay out of others’ business, and in a world like this, not minding one’s own business can get the person into big trouble. Even though they decide to catch a train and leave the place, the boy is not able to get to his teacher who boarded the train as he can’t run fast enough to reach the train’s door. Many years later, Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) works as a security guard as well as a part-time mechanic in a printing factory, while trying to keep away from trouble as much as possible, due to his experiences during the childhood. But when the girl living next door, Sedhah Esti Wulan (Tara Basro) and her little brother are threatened by a group of thugs, he interferes and throws them away from the apartment. Later, the thugs retaliate as a group, and after beating him up, throws him down from the top of a tall building.

And what more is to follow in this superhero world? :: But Sancaka is hit by lightning on that rainy day, and he awakens, even healing himself completely with the power of the lightning which had struck him. As he saves the helpless Wulan and her friends in a market from the same thugs, she asks him to join her as well as the many poor people who are under threat from the thugs. But things are not that direct as it would seem there. A legislator and crime lord named Pengkor (Bront Palarae) has everything under his control in the lower level of the city, with a gang of orphans under his command. He knows each and every crime which has happened in the city, and is planning to come up with something huge to create chaos and destruction in the city. With a scar and a limp which he had from his childhood, he would stop at nothing to hurt anyone who stand against him. Sooner or later, Sancaka will have to become Gundala, while his friends including Wulan who is falling in love with him are also under threat. Can he live up to the expectation and be the symbol of hope for everyone?

The defence of Gundala :: We have always been in need of superheroes, especially those who are not from Hollywood, especially not from Marvel or DC. We have always loved Shaktimaan from our childhood, and so the need has always been there. With Avengers finishing the job, and the biggest superheroes Iron Man and Captain America out of he equation, we are always looking for possible alternatives. We can gladly say that this is indeed one, and this time, we have a realistic one in a believable world, with less use of powers and more of martial arts. The action is all done in very well, and there is enough of it, especially when we consider this as an origin story. The dystopian setting is also really well done, and we get to be with the people who undergo the struggle against those people who forces them to stay at the lowest level. In one way or the other, these people are having their own Batman, but with some superpowers – maybe he is a little bit of Captain America with the ideology he later develops, but these are all nicely evolved, and developed to fit our interests here.

Positives and negatives :: This is not to be checked out like you do for those big CGI filled movies like Avengers and the others, because of its existence closer to realism. It has to be noted that Gundala Putra Petir was also the first comic book adaptation in the nation, and it dealt with the same superhero in 1981. Indonesia is supposed to have a superhero movie franchise like Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) called the BumiLangit Cinematic Universe (BCU), from what we read about them, and with one more superhero introduced with our main hero, we can be sure that there will be more to come in the next few years, even though the Corona Virus delay could still be there. We haven’t really been aware of the same, but there are some fine superheroes who could come to be big screen, and it would be nice to watch them all, just like we had supported the heroes of Marvel and DC. If they are to be like our hero here, we can be sure that all of them can feel close to our lives than the extra dose of metahuman-alien stuff that Hollywood has been providing with the CGI. Here, the nicely created world works with minimum CGI, and connects so well.

Performers of the soul :: Tara Basro played the protagonist in Impetigore, and she is here too, as the actress who has just turned thirty and also got married this year, brings another fine performance to her credit. As we look at it, we know that she is also supposed to play a superhero which she is to become in another movie in the franchise. She has already done enough to prove here as the Hollywood style scream queen, and here, her existence in the action movies seems to be able to provide the same wonderful effect – we would need to see her as the superhero soon enough, along with other popular names who are to be part of the upcoming projects of this franchise’s universe. Abimana Aryasatya is a solid superhero here, and he makes the Indonesian Batman in Jakarta City instead of Gotham City, taking on crime and saving innocent citizens. He makes us go through his emotions and ideology as we wealk his path. We also have some strong villain with Bront Palarae being very much menacing, along with assassins including Kelly Tandiono, Asmara Abigail, Hannah Al Rashid and others. Ario Bayu whom we had seen in Impetigore is also here, making an impact.

How it finishes :: This movie comes from Joko Anwar, who is the same director that brought us, the high quality horror thriller named Impetigore. Even though this movie belongs to a completely different genre, we can see the director’s skills at work yet again. We have known many superheroes already, and this one is based on the Indonesian comics character Gundala created by Harya Suraminata in 1969 – it is nice to know that we do have more of superheroes with variety in store. It is always great to have some home-grown superheroes, but not like that ridiculous thing called Krrish which doesn’t feel Indian, original or really heroic in any way, but Shaktimaan type are always welcome. Indonesia has achieved that so well, and this movie is also fine work, not just as an entertainer, but also in many other ways, as this is more than your usual superhero movie. After my last visit to Bali, this is the closest that I have managed to get to loving Indonesia, and we are to fall in love with Indonesian movies if there are more films like this one. After all, this one stays closer to the values of the common man that even the Dark Knight could ever do.

Release date: 28th August 2019
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Joko Anwar
Starring: Abimana Aryasatya, Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Ario Bayu, Rio Dewanto, Lukman Sardi, Fariz Fadjar, Aqi Singgih, Marissa Anita, Hannah Al Rashid, Asmara Abigail, Daniel Adnan, Cornelio Sunny, Kelly Tandiono

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thor: Ragnarok

What is the movie about? :: Two years have passed after the Battle of Sokovia which happened in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has allowed himself to be imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) in his dark lair. The demon warns him about what is to happen to Asgard in the absence of its ruler, Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) after he will be able to combine his crown of fire with the eternal flame that burns beneath the city. The prophecy about Ragnarok which was to be the terrible fate of Asgard in the twilight of the gods, seems to be getting close to becoming true, and Thor fights him to prevent the same. After defeating him and taking his crown, Thor believes that he has prevented Ragnarok only to find his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) on the throne, taking the form of Odin, after feigning his own demise. Getting his statues built, and having theatre performances about his own heroic sacrifice, Loki’s fun ends with Thor’s demand to find their father.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: With the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), they find Odin in Norway, only to be notified about what is to happen next, with his first-born, the Goddess of Death, Hela (Cate Blanchett) returning from exile following his weakening and death. The powerful warrior goddess who had conquered the nine realms with Odin, was imprisoned and her tales of battle erased after her ambition grew rather too high. As they come across each other, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer, and leaves the two brothers outside the bridge between the two realms to die as if in a void, but they end up on a planet called Sakaar. Meanwhile, Hela who has arrived in Asgard destroys everyone who stands against her, including the military. After appointing the demoted Asgardian Skurge (Karl Urban) as her executioner, and with her army revived from the tombs, her plan is to begin again from where Odin decided to stop the bloodshed, and conquer more realms.

And what else is to come? :: Hela and her newly recruited undead army are temporarily stopped though, by Heimdall (Idris Elba) who takes away the sword that controls the passage to the other realms. Meanwhile, Thor is captured by Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), who takes him to Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who rules the planet, and conducts a competition of gladiators in a grand arena where he has his own champion who he expects to win every time. After agreeing to participating in the competition, Thor is surprised to find that it is his old friend, the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) whom he has to fight. So, the question remains if he can find his freedom by winning the battle against his Avengers team-mate, or get the same done in some other way. With Hela continuing her hunt for the missing Asgardians who might have blocked her way to conquest of all realms, it seems that time is running out.

The defence of Thor: Ragnarok :: There is no shortage of fun in this third movie about the god of lightning – the action is too good, with those stylish sequences which are supported by some wonderful music; then there are the jokes, which are many, and most of them are certain to work without any trouble. We have been missing both Thor and the Hulk, and their absence in Captain America: Civil War was noticed a lot more than one would have thought. The arena battle between Thor and Hulk is among the best of battles, and so is the final battle which is powered by lightning and all things of wonder. The use of Norse mythology can never get any better, and this is surely one of those movies in which gets the eminence back to Marvel, rising over the challenge which Wonder Woman had created, and continuing the humour-action entertainment that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had brought earlier this year with ease.

Positives and negatives :: One can find it easy to claim that Thor: Ragnarok is never really serious, as even with those problems which can cause extinction and end of worlds, there is humour coming in so often. There is no serious feeling about terror coming all the way here, and the possible death and destruction won’t make anyone too scared or disappointed – it can’t be related with the lack of moral side though. The dark humour is more suitable for Iron Man considering his bourgeoisie scientist attitude which makes him the millionaire which Batman would never want to be – The Dark Knight would surely choose “Iron Man sucks” as his password, like in The Lego Batman Movie if they were part of the same universe. The action could have focused a lot more on the villain, as she has the power to do a lot more every time. Unlike what one would have thought, Thor no longer provides that many morality messages like Captain America would have done if he was a God of Thunder, Lightning or Strength, not necessarily the Lord of Moral Science.

Performers of the soul :: Chris Hemsworth has come a long way from being Thor in that first movie, and it is evident in each moment, as we keep identifying him with this role, and vice versa more often. He has a fine combination with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, as the green monster as well as the scientist has been successful in making things better for this movie which is clearly the Thor movie, with Hulk having rather too less in that category. Tom Hiddleston is at his usual best as Loki, while Tessa Thompson gets to have some of the glory too, being a very welcome addition to this franchise – one can’t help noticing a little bit of Michelle Rodriguez in the Resident Evil, Fast and Furious model. Cate Blanchett shines as the unusual female villain that Marvel needed, but one can be sure that Charlize Theron would have been a great option to be the Goddess of Death too. Karl Urban plays a different role in this one, and it is definitely stylish. Idris Elba nicely suits in his character again, and Jeff Goldblum brings more fun.

How it finishes :: This third movie of Thor has so much of what you might have only dreamed about. Following more of the model of Guardians of the Galaxy with the Avengers touch rather than what would have been the usual Thor style, Thor: Ragnarok becomes a treat to watch in more than one level, rising above many other superhero movies, easily establishing its domination over DC as it did with so many movies, as we see them waiting to retaliate with Justice League. As the Norse gods of Asgard can’t skip the Ragnarok, it is also not appropriate for you to decide to miss Thor: Ragnarok – after all, there is more than one prophecy to be fulfilled, and there is also Avengers: Infinity War coming up in 2018, and its untitled sequel in 2019, which are going to be two of the biggest among them all. If you have read about these two movies, you will know how many of our heroes, we are expecting there. It might be the biggest comics based superhero thing of all-time. But for now, this movie is something that all of you would love a lot, no matter whom you choose as your favourite superhero – it is just pure gratification.

Release date: 3rd November 2017
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Benedict Cumberbatch (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Victor Frankenstein

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Vampire Owl :: None of our undead doctors have approved of this movie.

Vampire Bat :: That will not be a problem at all, because neither have the critics.

Vampire Owl :: So, we should still watch this one?

Vampire Bat :: As long as there is no ban, we can surely do that.

Vampire Owl :: Thankfully, we are not from a realm where there are bans on certain types of food, cinema and clothing.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, unlike these humans who are elected for no reason, Uncle Dracula is a lenient and intelligent ruler. Even the brain-dead Lich Queen knows better.

Vampire Owl :: We should let the clever film makers from the human side to work on their movies here.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, that will also be a big bonus for tourism; all is well as long as they keep their hatred, vanity, greed and envy outside our realms.

Vampire Owl :: And to avoid any temptation for the vampires, they should lock their necks, especially those veins…

Vampire Bat :: Stop! I am going to pretend that I never really heard that!

[Gets three cups of tea with tapioca chips].

What is it about? :: The tale begins and goes through the perspective of a nameless hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe) who works as the clown in a circus. He has been part of the circus for so long, and is more of a property of the circus, treated badly by most of the people there. But he secretly reads books that are stolen, mostly related to science, particularly human anatomy. He has feelings for an aerialist, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) who is injured during one of the shows. With no hope for her survival after falling from a good height, the hunchback tries his best to do anything, and at that exact moment, is aided by a stranger known by the name Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) who was attending the circus performance. Both succeeds in saving the girl who is taken to a hospital. This becomes the turning point in the life of the hunchback.

So what happens next? :: Victor Frankenstein has been a very ambitious medical student who has been working on something special. His aim has always been to make a discovery that would change the future. He has been scarred by his earlier experiences and wishes to make amends with his father (Charles Dance) who thinks that he is good for nothing and will never be anywhere close to his brother. He wanted to create life, and fascinated by a simple, uneducated hunchback’s knowledge in human anatomy, decides to recruit him for the cause as his assistant, and make things better and easier. So, he plans and manages a grand escape for the hunchback whom he names Igor, after his former room-mate. He drains the new assistant’s hump with his expertise and successfully hides him as the room-mate that he once had.

How does the journey go? :: The newly named Igor instantly impresses Victor, and they realize that they can go a long way forward. The police inspector Roderick Turpin (Andrew Scott) who investigates the disappearance of the hunchback realizes that something strange is going on, and it is against God. Considering Victor’s experiments as sins and his creations as unholy, he decides to stop him, whatever it might cost. They also come up against Lorelei once again, but this time as a different person. She also asks them to rethink about going against the natural order of things. But Victor and Igor are so close to their first case of success, but will that bring them glory or terror? What role will Lorelei play in this dangerous attempt at glory? Is it really an act against God, and what danger can this new creation from the grave bring?

The defence of Victor Frankenstein :: The visuals are really good with this one; there is a lot of style associated with the movie, and the cast also saves the day. Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy are good, especially the former who seems to have more control over his character. Jessica Brown Findlay also brings some charm while Andrew Scott is a fine opponent to the protagonists. The differences when compared to the original story has been nicely created. The messages are well placed, and they are mostly against vanity and the false ambition which stay strong within the main protagonist – he is so close to becoming Doctor Faustus, not just Doctor Frankenstein. It also asserts that there are things that cannot be changed and we have to accept them. There are some nice dialogues which keep making the point too. It has its own dose of entertainment too, and that matters.

The claws of flaw :: Victor Frankenstein needed a better flow in its story. It surely begins nicely, but gets lost at times. It is quite strange that the movie doesn’t try that hard to deviate from its source material from which it hasn’t really followed – there seems to be an attempt to return but at the same time staying different. The movie needed to be more certain with its story, and also could have dealt with its main characters differently – even though the main actors handle the whole thing well, better characterization and a much better background would have done them all, some more good. More horrors and thrilling moments could have been added to make its central idea about life and death more appealing; for now, they have done well to do that with the dialogues – maybe they could have done so without speaking that much about the same.

How it finishes :: Victor Frankenstein is another interesting movie based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 Gothic horror novel. The different versions of the same story or newly written extensions always bring something that can catch our attention, just like I, Frankenstein which extended the tale very nicely. In another case, there was Dracula Untold which brought another angle to the popular 1897 Gothic horror novel by Bram Stoker. If you are going to judge this one based on the many years old story, this is not the movie for you; but if you are ready to think from another angle, and understand the imagination behind making such a different attempt, you can surely go for this one, as despite not being that big Frankenstein movie, this is a fun movie which also leaves the viewers with some interesting messages to take home.

Release date: 27th November 2015 (India); 25th November 2015 (USA)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Paul McGuigan
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Charles Dance, Freddie Fox, Mark Gatiss, Callum Turner, Daniel Mays, Spencer Wilding

victorfrankenstein

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Veeram

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Ask the magic mirror :: “Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Fairest of Them All?” – now here is the answer which naturally comes to any mirror which has been taken into a theatre to watch Veeram; and it is Tamannah Bhatia. Unless that mirror prefers Kristen Stewart more than Charlize Theron, and as long as the question is not about being the “palest”, it is indeed a magic mirror which can be trusted. The first thing one notices in the movie is not our leading lady, that is for sure, but as far as being fair is considered, there is only person on the screen who takes that to another level. Whenever she is around, everyone else looks darker – no that is no measure of beauty even as Tamannah is indeed the more beautiful and the cute one around, and thanks to those beautiful locations during the songs, there is the snow to give that much needed competition; being the ice princess or the snow queen has never been this easy with anybody else.

What is it about? :: This is the story of Vinayakam (Ajith Kumar), the one-man army with a possible extension to five with his four brothers, and even to an army of six if their lawyer is included in the gang. The man has become more of a landlord who takes care of his people and is extremely caring about his brothers. He is a stern businessman and a reputed man of his area. He has weakness for the name Kopperundevi (Tamannaah Bhatia) and as a lady comes up with the same name, thanks to the work of his brothers and the adopted brother lawyer, he falls in love with her, and with the good guy impression created by the brothers, she also falls for him and takes the decision to take him to meet her family. But later she comes to know that he is the rough and tough guy who beats up people whenever he sees something wrong. As she wants a more peace loving person so that he can be approved by her father, he decides to become one. But the need for fight doesn’t leave him, or does it?

The defence of Veeram :: Translated into English as “Valour”, the movie is a action masala movie, and that basically forgives most of the troubles of the movie. Another thing is that this is the movie of Ajith, or rather by Ajith, about which there is lot more to talk about. Meanwhile, the movie has immense style, and it is reflected not only in the display of the same, but also in the narrative. The use of rain, thunder and lightning along with the clouds adds such a strength to the movie that this use is nothing less than deserving applause. The locations are beautiful and those of the songs are breathtaking. The mixing of action, sentiments and humour is intelligent, and it makes up for what is lost in the old plot. Even with so much lacking in innovation as far as the story is concerned, there is a lot working out well in the other departments. There are many mass scenes and even as the action gets repetitive, the sequences are powerful.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is all about Ajith’s character, and the rest are kept in the shadows most of the times, and their existence is more to make our hero better rather than for themselves, as our leading lady exists so that he could fall in love and dance with her, and a villain to be afraid of him and another to be beaten up and killed by him. The purpose of brothers is more to show that he is superior, but that is understandable as this is more of a movie for the fans; and our hero is that awesome indeed, thanks to a powerful portrayal. The romantic side is weak, mostly due to the fact that it is forced and not rightly fit in the movie. The action scenes repeat as if put in a loop, and it could have been better if some shots of beating up villains were cut. The sentiments also go in a strange way, and the lack of logic is right there in the centre. The story should also be older than most of the actors in the movie, and its similarities to many other Tamil and Malayalam movies can be noted down.

Performers of the soul :: Ajith’s movie as one would expect, as he outperforms everyone with such an ease that what exists there is mostly a one-man show. From his entry, he keeps scoring, and his looks are perfect for this role. It does remind one about Mammootty in the 2000 Malayalam movie Valyettan, but to a small extent; with the romantic side of the brothers slightly resembling the 1991 Malayalam film Godfather. Tamannaah is dazzling, and you can often take that literally. This is the first time I am watching a movie starring her, and I am glad I finally did that; had to leave the Kajal Aggarwal starrer behind even as it was running in the same theatre at the same time, but no beauty lost in the end. Its good to see Bala too, as its been a long time since I watched one of his movies, and he plays a character with the same name which made him famous in the 2007 Malayalam movie Big B, which might once again be a luck factor. Santhanam comes up with lots of funny moments to make sure that the comic side doesn’t go weak. Nassar and Atul Kulkarni also comes up with strong performances.

Soul exploration :: The most shocking thing to the soul was the name of the heroine, especially when her nickname was revealed to be Kopu. But what’s interesting to the soul is its assertion of family values and putting one’s people over everything else. It starts off with the brothers and later extends to the family of his lover, our hero becomes a model brother and son in no time. He sacrifices his happiness to see the family happy, and keeps them away from all the problems as well as their knowledge of their troubles. We have known Jeffrey Nero Hardy as the charismatic enigma, but our hero here is nothing less throughout the movie. Another thing is the significance of “tea” as a symbol in the movie; it not only becomes a symbol of his simplicity, but also his hard-work as well as love for his brothers and family. How often do you see a movie poster with the hero happily drinking tea in it? Now that is a plus for the soul and the Vampire Bat loves it.

How it finishes :: There was always going to be a doubt about which movie to watch, with Jilla running on the other screen, and choosing this was a risk, but nothing regrettable happened in the end. It was nothing strange to see that the viewers for both movies were almost equal, and with only a few vehicles in the yard, with not even one mediocre Malayalam movie release in the same week, and both the Hollywood and Bollywood side being weak in comparison as far as normal people are concerned – shortage of big movies (Drishyam and Oru Indian Pranaya Katha are still there along with many English movies from much earlier, still in the multiplexes). The movie is reckless and violent in its action, and the use of sharp weapons cloud the movie like nothing else – if that is a positive or a negative is for the audience to decide, as it doesn’t go beyond a level. The opinion is divided about the movie, but I would say that this one deserves a check as it keeps the interest high even as it might be too long for one’s liking.

Release date: 10th January 2014
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Siva
Starring: Ajith Kumar, Tamannaah Bhatia, Vidharth, Bala, Santhanam, Ramesh Khanna, Atul Kulkarni, Nassar, Abhinaya, Pradeep Rawat, Munish, Manochitra

veeram copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.