Anna

Vampire Owl: There is nothing more interesting than a spy thriller.

Vampire Bat: Do you remember The Man from UNCLE?

Vampire Owl: Yes, that was one of my favourite movies of that time.

Vampire Bat: This one is a very serious movie in comparison though.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that this is partially Russian, French and American.

Vampire Bat: Well, there is more to this movie than what meets the eye.

Vampire Owl: Can Anna be a John Wick or Hitman with the gunfights?

Vampire Bat: Well, we are going to know that with clarity, soon.

Vampire Owl: Still, my favourite Anna names have been Anna Kournikova and Ana Ivanovic without the extra N.

Vampire Bat: This Anna should make an impact too, even for the vampires.

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

What is the movie about? :: During the time period between 1985 and 1990, the tension is high between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, as CIA and KGB try to prove the quality of their work in the final few years of the Cold War. At the same time, Anna (Sasha Luss), is a young Russian girl whp has been the victim of domestic abuse, being abused both physically and sexually by her husband, Piotr (Alexander Petrov). The man is a criminal and a drug addict, forcing his wife to become part of his illegal actions while wasting no time in making her feel as his property – she would do anything to get out of her situation. One day, after a failed attempt to take money from an ATM using an American tourist’s card and shooting at police, he attempts to leave the city with her, only to be stopped by Alexander Tchenkov (Luke Evans) who murders Piotr and offers Anna a job at the agency for five years, as he was impressed by her earlier profile and background before she became enslaved at her present situation with her husband.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Her father was earlier in the military force, and she had also tried to enlist into the navy. With the problems created by her husband looming over her, she agrees to Alexander’s offer and serve the country in a different way in comparison to her father, and joins the training. Later, we see that she becomes an undercover agent, after selling dolls in a marked in Russia, and later being taken to France, becoming one of the top models in Paris. As a part of her cover, she also pretends to be in a relationship with the lesbian model who worked with her, Maude (Lera Abova). She does manage to assassinate her target Oleg (Andrew Howard) who had revealed to her something which KGB wanted to hear, the revelation ending up as the reason for his death. Leonard Miller (Cillian Murphy), a CIA agent does get some clue of her involvement in the murder, but he lets him go at that time. But there is something else happening in the background – what could that be?

The defence of Anna :: There is no doubt about the ability of this movie to thrill, as it has a large number of twists in store – you rarely see what is coming, as at one moment you see something and think about it, but the very next moment, you are up for a surprise. The action sequences are really good, reminding you of movies like John Wick and Hitman among the others, and you love how well the leading lady has handled everything around here. The tale does have something to keep us interested at almost every point, meaning that there is no dull moment at all. There are also some beautiful visuals set for us here, and we watch the wonderful action take place in different nations in the middle of all that magnificence. There is one final action sequence which is so long, and the protagonist going on shooting people – it is impressive, and so are many other sequences which catch our attention, while staying with us, especially the fans of genre.

The claws of flaw :: Anna has a little more flashbacks than one should want it to have. They also come up at a time when you are not expecting them, and are not needed, making it not that easy to follow the movie in the way it should be followed. The problem it creates affects the timeline more than anything else, and we are confused about what happened before which incident – we just cannot keep track of everything which has happened in the timeline, because there are so many of separate incidents, and when you squeeze something from another point of time into the world when something interesting is going on, there is a certain loss of control. The movie should have done very well with everything going in a straight line, with one or two flashback sequences. It could have also used a little bit of humour which was there to be taken on a number of occasions, but the movie avoids it to go back to its usual pace.

Performers of the soul :: Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova does a fantastic job as the femme fatale, assassin and the spy who works as a model when she is undercover. As she is really a Russian fashion model in life, it seems to work well for her, and as the assassin, she is perfect too, without feelings as she shows almost no regret after the murders. The one person who seems to match her in such action is Olga Kurylenko, the Ukraine-born model who moved from Russia to France just like the main character here. Luke Evans who had slain the dragon in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, brought the villainy in Fast and Furious 6, embraced vampirism in Dracula Untold and went on an unstoppable killing spree in No One Lives, gets to be strong one here too, as he plays the KGB agent who recruits the protagonist. Cillian Murphy on the other side plays the CIA agent with ease. Helen Mirren’s role is the usual, and plays with no difficulty in regular style.

How it finishes :: Anna is one of the best thrilling action adventures which you might have seen in a long time, and it reminds one of movies like The Man from UNCLE. Luc Besson, the director has already given us some wonderful films in the recent past including the fantastic interstellar adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and the strong action thriller Lucy, along with those older classic movies like Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element. This one is just another wonderful addition to the list, as you go through the twists and thrills without taking your eyes off what is going on. The Brian De Palma movie starring Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Femme Fatale is one another movie which comes to the mind with this flick, but nothing matches Anna in its twists along with the action, as there is one coming after the other, and in the end, you know that nothing was happening the way you felt earlier, or later.

Release date: 10th July 2019
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren, Lera Abova, Anna Krippa, Nastya Sten, Alexander Petrov, Nikita Pavlenko, Aleksey Maslodudov, Eric Godon, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Andrew Howard, Ivan Franek

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Valerian

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we went through space?

Vampire Bat: Yes, that was when the portal created by Doctor Frankenstein opened at the wrong place.

Vampire Owl: It is still a much debated topic. He says that the portal still opened at the right place, which has another portal as a connection.

Vampire Bat: There is no history of the existence of having a portal connected or placed within another portal.

Vampire Owl: He always makes new history. Last time he did something like this, it became a novel.

Vampire Bat: There is real debate on that, about his motives behind the same.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Uncle Dracula trusts him more than anybody else?

Vampire Bat: Yes, just like the Frankenstein Monster trusted his monster. Where did it lead him?

Vampire Owl: Frankenstein Monster’s case is different. He was never really alive to be dead, and so he never really got out of life to die.

Vampire Bat: Life and death, they are just two sides of a leviathan’s coin, marked with the sign of the undead.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Krackjack biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A long way into the future, a former International Space Station has reached critical mass, getting relocated into deep space, being renamed as the city of Alpha, a space-traveling world inhabited by millions of creatures from many thousands of planets from different galaxies as humans build contact wit them. With the population going out of control, there is a special police force created to preserve peace as well as law and order, and it has Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who go on special missions all around the galaxy to make sure that everything works according to the plan. It is one of those days when they are having some vacation time that Valerian dreams about Princess Liho-Minaa (Sasha Luss) who is living in a planet with her peaceful group of people who fishes for pearls, but has their world destroyed by spaceships coming right out of the sky. But he is clueless about how the dream could be so clear, and it is as if the princess is calling out to him.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: It is analyzed that the message could have been from any time period and any part of the universe, and there is no chance of finding what could have caused the message to get through him, and the source remains unknown. At the same time, their next mission is on, with the need to get something that replicates almost anything in the universe – but it turns out that the same is with the black market dealer Igon Siruss (John Goodman) who is part of an extra-dimensional marketplace. There, Valerian and Laureline find the secret to unlocking something which has been troubling the government for a long time – Commander Arun Filitt (Clive Owen) of something strange happening in the centre of Alpha, and that the troops sent into that particular area have not returned, and the area which is out of their control, is growing. Now, it is up to the two to find more of the missing links, and unveil the big mystery.

The defence of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets :: What you would notice as the first thing about Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is that it is one of the most beautiful things that you can watch on the screen, as the space, the planets, the world of thousands planets, as well as the alien creatures and people, they all make it such a colourful world which has so much detail with everything. The skill is not limited to that, as there are those nice action sequences which go with them, and there is also one mystery to come to light. What you see on the screen is the marvel that you will need to keep watching again and again, as we are transported to that world which has no boundaries in extravagance. You might need this one to make sure that you can escape to that world, some place further away than any travel site can tell you, as imagination run high here, and there is a twist to be discovered, as one would expect with a movie like this, as dark secrets get out.

The claws of flaw :: There are moments when you feel that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has been focusing the most on its visuals – it is no crime, and we are invited into a wonderful feast on the screen, but you are certain to feel that there was scope for more with its story that goes beyond planets and galaxies. The last few moments take a little more time to reach the end unlike having a smooth run – there is a little unnecessary extension there without which the movie could have been smartly smoother. We also hope that the audience can grow up to this movie, instead of claiming that any fantasy movie without quality is so good just because it is from their industry – they were not looking for substance them, claiming that the over-hyped movies was something which it surely couldn’t go on to become. We have such shameless people around, and so, it is no surprise that the critics would also want to please them up to an extent.

Performers of the soul :: There is some good chemistry being shared by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in this movie which is about the two more than anyone else, except for a few aliens, if we look closer. Well, most of the Bollywood fans are not going to call this one chemistry for sure, and we can say the same about those critics who have been watching too many of those romantic melodrama nonsense for years. A good science fiction or action flick might be a long way out of their world. One might have still wanted more with the protagonists, but they are good, maintaining peace not just in the city of thousand planets, but also for the viewers. You remember Cara Delevingne from Suicide Squad, she made a wonderful Enchantress, a young archaeologist who was possessed by an ancient evil force – of course, critics took the right to be prejudiced then. Dane DeHaan was fantastic in A Cure for Wellness, if you have watched it, and when we consider the superhero movie stuff, it is The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s Green Goblin and Enchantress making a lovable no-longer-villain couple.

How it finishes :: Coming from the director of the surprise awesomeness Lucy, you will see that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is that beautiful world on the screen that deserved more than what it got – the same was the case with Jupiter Ascending and John Carter, both having some wonderful worlds on the screen, with tales that go the distance; but we know that the audience and critics cam both be the kind of people who got the history of not making excellent movies score with box-office collections or opinions. Well, at least movies like Pacific Rim and Terminator Genisys did well outside North America to get the attention that they deserved. Well, it is good to have divergent audience all around, and only then can we nullify the effects of prejudiced viewers. For the same reason, lets hope that more people watch this movie and come with the good opinions, inspiring a sequel to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – we can see that the scope is rather endless with this one, like in the game Mass Effect.

Release date: 21st July 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer, John Goodman, Elizabeth Debicki, Sam Spruell, Alain Chabat, Thom Findlay, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jonas Bloquet, Sand Van Roy, Sasha Luss, Louis Leterrier, Olivier Megaton

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lucy

lucy (2)

Vampire Owl :: Cruel people here. How can they delay a Scarlett Johansson movie so much?

Vampire Bat :: May be the Indian censor board was busy. They have been concentrating on chopping things off from Finding Fanny. Even the dialogue that one is a virgin is to be cut off.

Vampire Owl :: So they were having a tough time with Lucy? But it is still given that “A” certificate.

Vampire Bat :: The censor board is making sure that we end up watching adult movies which have children’s content, so that we realize that we have grown up so much.

Vampire Owl :: But people will still think that we watch only adult movies.

Vampire Bat :: I would think that even Home Alone and Baby’s Day Out will be rated “A” if released these days.

Vampire Owl :: They are violent movies. The poor adult robbers and kidnappers are mistreated by kids. It sets a bad example for the new generation. They will not just give an “A”, they will just ban them.

Vampire Bat :: There is a conservative world coming up. I thought they would have at least found “being virgin” as a good thing.

Vampire Owl :: This is why I drop ice buckets at people.

Vampire Bat :: Can we just proceed for that adult movie?

[Goes to the ticket counter].

What is it about? :: Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is studying and enjoying her life in Chinese Taipei, but she is tricked into working as a drug smuggler by her new boyfriend. But she is captured and a bag of drugs is put in her her abdomen so that she can carry them back home for the drug mafia. But while in captivity, a lot of drugs are released into her system as she is kicked again and again by her captors. As a result, she has improved mental abilities including mind reading, brain control, telepathy, telekinesis and many others, but the indirect result of the same being a possible death in hours. She gets the bag removed from inside her, and contacts the expert Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) to know what is there for herself and the future of mankind. As time passes, she gets more and more powerful, and easily go through the drug mafia and gets their drug carriers captured. The mafia as well as the police are too weak in front of her, and the question remains for whom she is going to be beneficial and to whom she will turn out to be catastrophic.

The defence of Lucy :: Along with Scarlett Johansson’s wonderful performance as the protagonist, the movie can boast about taking that idea which is more of a myth and developing into something big. It has nice special effects and good, controlled action sequences which are taking in a more stylish manner – the whole thing is visually very good, and one has to admit that if the willing suspension of disbelief is rightly implemented and considered as a whole, there is not just a lot of fun, but there is also something for the intellect as it does keep the audience thinking within its own universe. It is difficult not to like Lucy, and no matter how hard you try, that option just isn’t there, unless you are short of the capacity to understand and follow – now that will make you not so human, right? There will always be people who fails to understand, and it is mostly with the bloody audience coming in groups and talking rubbish throughout the movie. It is surprising that they would go on to talk through the slide which tells them not to talk and disturb the movie experience for others.

The claws of flaw :: There is no huge action sequence which has our heroine transforming into the Black Widow and go Avenger on everyone. Except for some gunshots between the mafia and the police, the rest of the action remains of the mind. The movie’s idea of the ten percent of the human brain being used is rather weak in the circumstances, as without it and the supporting clips, the movie could have gone on losing nothing in the process. It is also too short, lasting almost one and half hours and nothing more than that unless you include the advertisements (look out for the awesome Dracula Untold trailer that comes before this if it does). There could have been more time taken here for the finish, and the possibilites of such immense mind power should have been further explored – but this one chooses to be short, but due to the same, drags nowhere. The violence is there, not much, but can be considered unnecessary by a few. The movie also needs the viewers who can use some part of brain when needed, and even in the multiplexes, it is difficult to find such people – they all want mindless action making no sense, right?

Performers of the soul :: Lucy is pure Scarlett Johansson show of the highest quality in a character which brings no challenge to her, and due to the same, she seems to blend effortlessly into that character which reminds the viewer of two others, Carrie White and Jean Grey who possessed similar powers. But Lucy is different because her powers are not part of her, and is causing her own destruction – Scarlett Johansson scores there, as you see her transformation from the victim to the all-powerful entity and also with those emotional elements. Known more for being the gorgeous one and among the sexier women alive, she comes up with an all-round performance here along with looking good. There was Natasha Romanoff a.k.a Black Widow, but this one is all-round all powerful. Morgan Freeman also comes in with an avatar that we can easily identify him with – a man of great knowledge and wisdom, who can be a guide as well as the one who deals with the explanations nicely. Choi Min-sik as Mr. Jang is a nice villain, and Amr Waked is good.

Soul exploration :: Scarlett Johansson needs a movie on Black Widow, and it is crystal clear that she can handle it, as she proves the same with Lucy. Yes, the movie is highly dependant on her, and what Angelina Jolie did for Maleficent, she is doing here. She takes full control of things, and one has to admit that this is a lot better than what Jolie came up with in that twisted fairy tale there. With the only other well known actor being Morgan Freeman, the movie was totally dependant on our superstar lady. It reminds us of Transcendence with its idea about that all powerful person who turns into something beyond human comprehension, and Morgan Freeman was the scientist Joseph Tagger there too. Then the movie is also a bit Carrie, with the central character, the lady getting immense mental capabilities beyond anyone’s comprehension. But this one is a lot faster and smarter than the former, and also quicker and with more happenings than the latter. Our heroine is also Jean Grey, but not being the mutant who is blessed wth powers.

How it finishes :: Lucy comes late to India, but it was never as much a much awaited movie as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which might release on this Friday here, but knowing what delayed Hercules, we can’t be sure yet. Lucy has a much silent sojourn here as not many people knows that it is present in the theatres with less number of shows. It should still enjoy limited success, as it doesn’t go on the Transcendence path and bore us beyond the limits of all kinds of boredom, and at the same time, it has Scarlett Johansson. It is still caught in a competition with The Expendables 3, and the shadows of Guardians of the Galaxy and Hercules, as it runs through the course. For those who wishes to watch a nice Hollywood movie which has its own identity, and even in its comparisons with many other movies, could stay different, there is always Lucy. There was always Carrie, and now there is Lucy, coming up with some improved mental capabilities, being another version of that mutated Jean Grey without the X-Men or any superpowered creature around.

Release date: 22nd August 2014 (India); 25th July 2014 (US)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, Choi Min-sik, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Phongpheth

lucy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.