Mortal Kombat

Vampire Owl: Do you remember us watching Mortal Kombat on VCR a long time ago?

Vampire Bat: Yes, a long time ago for humans, just a little bit earlier for us.

Vampire Owl: Yes, immortality has an effect on the perception of time.

Vampire Bat: Yet, those were the days when humans had tapes instead of CDs.

Vampire Owl: Mortal Kombat had also inspired many grand stage fights between vampires and werewolves.

Vampire Bat: Yes, thanks to our special powers, we won most of them against brutal strength.

Vampire Owl: Our battles were more or less immortal combats though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, immortality makes sure that death is near impossible.

Vampire Owl: Actually, having such tournaments are good options in our realms too.

Vampire Bat: Well, tournaments no longer have value among elders.

[Gets a red velvet cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: In Japan during the seventeenth century, a group of assassins ruthlessly attack a family, and their leader Bi-Han (Joe Taslim) murders everyone except for their child, who is taken by the God of Thunder Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) to safety. Back to the present, the terrifying realm of Outworld has defeated Earthrealm in nine out of ten competitions of Mortal Kombat, and with one more victory, they could claim and rule Earth. The Outworld has never felt that they have come so close to gaining the ultimate victory. But, an ancient prophecy says otherwise, asserting that the blood of the family which fell centuries earlier could unite a new group of warriors who can defeat the fighters of Outworld. Aware of this, Shang Tsung (Chin Han) sends his warriors to make sure that there are no warriors left to fight them, and Bi-Han who is now known as Sub-Zero is assigned the job to find certain people who have a certain mark to identify them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The identification mark happens to be a dragon tattoo which has been on these people for a long time. A former professional MMA fighter called Cole Young (Lewis Tan) has such a mark, and a person named Jax (Mehcad Brooks) meets him and his family who are attached by Sub-Zero. Jax fights valiantly, but losses his arms to Sub-Zero’s cold, and is considered dead by the Outworld. Another person who is on the hunt is Mileena (Sisi Stringer) who wants Earth to be captured at any cost. Outworld is ready to break all the rules to make sure that they win this last battle. Cole searches for a woman named Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) to whom Jax had pointed much earlier, and upon discovering her, he learns about something sinister which has been going on in the background. She talks about Mortal Kombat, which might be a reality soon, and assures him that they have been chosen to fight for Earth against some unknown species from another world. But that might not be all.

The defence of Mortal Kombat :: This film is nothing less than a return to nostalgia, not just as the adaptation of a game which we have been playing so much from the early days of Windows, as it also contributes as the reminder of that movie which came to the cassette shops, and had us cheering for each action move on display. Well, this film is not that much far away from what we had seen then, as far as action sequences are concerned – we also have the superior computer graphics and with the better cameras, we have some visual grandeur on the screen as expected; a case of higher quality return of childhood as we look at it. The locations are nicely shaped using the special effects. The final battle with Scorpion and Sub-Zero around brings some quality final moments. We can consider this as a beginning, and hope to see more of the fights, with some real tournaments happening in different worlds. The origins of the new age adaptation has been set well, and with one fine sequel, the level of the whole thing could be raised.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about that fact that Mortal Kombat could have been better, especially with so many of options being available. There are so many characters in the game who could have been taken into this film, but only a few were used. Some of the very interesting characters are also killed too early. The individual battles could have actually lasted much more, and some special and unexpected moves could have been added around here. A little bit more of attention could be taken in the clothes of the characters too, and they could have stayed close to how they were in the game. GI Joe had also experienced similar problems, but that franchise never really had this much of variety and worlds to be displayed on the screen with grandeur. It is a shame that some of the battles finish too easily, when we know that there are so much to be done with fighters keeping on battling each other without holding back. You could have always added some game elements according to the requirements.

Performers of the soul :: Lewis Tan as Cole Young leads the way well, even though Jessica McNamee playing Sonya Blade seems to be the real leader around here throughout the first half of the film, as she nicely suits the role so well. Bridgette Wilson would still be the perfect Sonya, as we are all fans of that older version and go on to miss Kitana and Johnny Cage characters for now. Mehcad Brooks as Jax is another determined character who keeps his moments, and Josh Lawson as Kano adds to the same from the other side. The best looks still goes to Mel Jarnson playing Nitara, even though she is there for only a short period of time. We would have loved to see more of her around here, as the winged creature is a thing of Gothic beauty rather than anything else. Sisi Stringer as Mileena brings a side of horror very well. Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero makes the right antagonist, and the ice-filled moments of action are joy to watch. Chin Han and Tadanobu Asano leaves us something to look out for with another possible movie based on the same video game series. Ludi Lin and Max Huang are good additions as the trained warriors too.

How it finishes :: Mortal Kombat does have some special place in our hearts, as it was one of those earlier games which we played and continued to enjoy for a long time. Among these games, it was Mortal Kombat 4 which had our best attention, as it had high graphics requirements, and we actually had to go somewhere else to play the game. The characters of Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Quan-Chi and Raiden were among the favourites then, and it was only later that characters like Mileena were of interest. Among the games, this one does have a legendary status, even though just like the other game adaptations including Need for Speed, Hitman, Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Warcraft, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Doom, Blood Rayne, Max Payne, Assassin’s Creed and many others, this one also failed to gather much of critical appreciation. Yes, Resident Evil has grossed so much that nobody can question that particular franchise, but we know that adaptations require more.

Release date: 23rd April 2021 (USA), 11th September 2021 (Amazon)
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Simon McQuoid
Starring: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Tadanobu Asano, Mehcad Brooks, Ludi Lin, Chin Han, Joe Taslim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent, Sisi Stringer, Mel Jarnson, Nathan Jones, Daniel Nelson, Angus Sampson, Damon Herriman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aquaman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Power Rangers

Vampire Owl: I don’t really know these people. Are they from the shooting range?

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that you haven’t watched the 1995 Power Rangers movie? I thought we all had.

Vampire Owl: I already have too many superheroes, and they all have better names.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that you don’t remember Gabrielle Fitzpatrick as Dulcea.

Vampire Owl: Who in a ranger world is she?

Vampire Bat: I believe that you liked her a lot.

Vampire Owl: You talk about the girl in green.

Vampire Bat: Yes, she is the one. I see that you remember now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that she was no Poison Ivy of Batman.

Vampire Bat: Your superhero encyclopedia surely needs some special attention, and so does your memory.

[Gets three cups of special tea with Tiger biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A high school football star Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) gets dismissed from the team and has to go for detention after a prank fails miserably. It disappoints his father Sam Scott (David Denman) that he wasted his opportunities and reached this miserable state of life. There he comes up against Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), a nerd whom he saves from a bully. Billy asks for his help, and offers to deactivate his ankle monitor as well as lend him his van in return. Jason decides to help him even as he is doubtful about it. There, after providing some help to him at an old abandoned gold mine, he runs across Kimberly (Naomi Scott), his crush from the school, who is taking a bath in the nearby river – she tells him that she often goes through the place, as her home is on the other side. At the same time, Billy uses some explosives to break part of the rock in the quarry.

So, what happens next? :: The blast gets the attention of Jason and Kimberly, as well as two other students, Trini (Becky G) who is spending her lone time away from the family, and Zack (Ludi Lin) who lives nearby, taking care of his sick mother. There they pick up five pieces of rock, each having a different colour. They are chased by the mine’s security, and their car gets hit by a train, but they wake up at their houses, feeling different, and rather a lot powerful. They five teenagers return to the mine to find answers to what they are going through, and they find a space ship and inside, Alpha 5 (Bill Hader), a robot. He introduces them to the consciousness of the person known as Zordon (Bryan Cranston) who is supposed to have been a power ranger until he and his team of rangers were betrayed by another team member, the Green Ranger, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks) who is also on Earth. He tells them that they are chosen.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: With the new power rangers being chosen, he tells them that it is only a matter of time until Rita finds her full strength, gets to the Zeo Crystal which will help her to destroy all life on Earth. The teenagers leave, but reluctantly come back as Jason convinces them that they need to try so that their powers don’t go wasted. They keep training with Alpha 5 and the simulations of Rita’s minions, but they are unable to morph, which means that they will have no power ranger suit or armour. Zordon is disappointed that the chosen ones are acting more like kids, and have no sense of purpose. Meanwhile, Rita awakens and goes on a killing spree, collecting all the gold that she can on the way, looting people and places, hoping to summon her favourite minion, the giant winged monster known as Goldar (Fred Tatasciore) made of gold. Can the rangers be good enough to stop her before she gets what she wants?

The defence of Power Rangers :: The new version is surely an improvement from the tales which have been going through, and with the improvement, this brings the nostalgia from the childhood, when we watched the rangers and felt that they were so good. The movie is light-hearted, and would appeal to kids more than anyone else. The movie does have the right cast at the top though, with Dacre Montgomery as the hero and leader, bringing the charm, while Naomi Scott, brings a beautiful presence supported by the right performance – we see more of Power Rangers in these two than anywhere else. RJ Cyler provides the comedy along with an emotional side. There are some nice action sequences, especially in the end, and we see another grand battle between the good and evil, with destruction all around. There are also some messages in the movie about superpowers and responsibilities, like the ones you find in an earlier Spider-Man, a later Iron Man, or even in the ideology book of Captain America.

The claws of flaw :: One has to admit that the nostalgia related to Power Rangers is applicable to less number of people. Not many people were qualified enough to get this deep into superhero stuff of Hollywood during that time, as some thought that it was for children, and other felt Hollywood to be clearly beyond them. This movie also has a tale which has been going on and on with not just this movie, but also with many others, whether it is of Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or that long list of superheroes from Marvel and DC – Power Rangers won’t sound that good, and will never be that effective with lesser known cast and teenagers there in the suits. When Avengers and Justice League will fight to save the world from alien trouble with better budget, one has to feel that this one will struggle forever – to go with it, the yellow and black rangers are not likable at all. The villain also seems to have replaced her fiery elements with something else – wonder what it is.

How it finishes :: The world has surely changed from those times when Power Rangers were there earlier. Now we have a long list of superheroes, and there is no shortage of people with superpowers wandering around on the screen – this would be the cause of Power Rangers no longer being an effective franchise at the box-office here. There is the nostalgia for sure, but this is just one of those lesser group of heroes to whom people have that feeling for. Power Rangers: The Movie of 1995 might be the one thing which would have gotten these superheroes those fans, especially considering the fact that this along with Starship Troopers, Waterworld and Vampires were a few of those Video CDs available during those times – also, a lot of the youth of that time liked Gabrielle Fitzpatrick more than the movie, as for some, she was more joy to watch. Therefore, Power Rangers had that less power here, but it is an entertainer, and can be watched without going too deep.

Release date: 24th March 2017 (US) 31st March 2017 (India)
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Becky G, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, David Denman, Caroline Cave, Anjali Jay, Patrick Sabongui, Erica Cerra, Kayden Magnuson, Fiona Fu, Sarah Grey, Emily Maddison, Jaime Callica, Matt Shively, Garry Chalk, Fred Tatasciore

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.