The Legend of Tarzan

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Vampire Owl: I remember this particular person.

Vampire Bat: Did you read his story a long time ago too? There were so many available novels with him as the central character.

Vampire Owl: The Great Vampire Owl doesn’t read such things.

Vampire Bat: Then who are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: I am talking about the person on the dead tree near our castle.

Vampire Bat: Dude, he is the werewolf who was called to decorate our special spooky tree for the upcoming Vampire-Werewolf cultural fest.

Vampire Owl: So, he is not this Tarzan. It is disappointing, but the same does inspire me to throw a stone at that werewolf.

Vampire Bat: One stone means nothing to a werewolf. He won’t even know about it.

Vampire Owl: For my health to remain good, I hope he won’t know about it ever.

Vampire Bat: You are lucky to be alive with such plans going on in your head.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].

Flashback to the tale :: We remember this character from our childhood, don’t we? There might have been many more at a more English kind of a world of books and comics, but here the main characters were The Phantom, Mandrake and Tarzan, a group which was challenged only by those superheroes with names ending with men – Batman, Spider-Man, Superman and He-Man; that was all for my childhood. Edgar Rice Burroughs was known only to us for writing Tarzan during those days, but after watching John Carter, my favourite character from him did change. There were a good number of translated Tarzan novels available in Malayalam during those days, and I grew up reading them, while the rest of the superheroes came in comics and rarely on corners of newspapers. This tale of the child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani great apes was a fascinating one for a long time.

What is the movie about? :: In the year 1884, at the Berlin conference, the colonial powers of the world had decided to divide Congo, the area that has most of the River Congo flowing through and around it. King Leopold of Belgium claimed the the bigger area, that should be mostly the Democratic Republic of the Congo of these times or as earlier the Republic of Zaire, which includes the vast Congo Basin, rich in ivory and a lot of minerals. With an intense ambition to exploit his new colony and its resources, he uses all his power for control as well as building the infrastructure for his forces, but five years later, he only ends up in debt desperate for money to pay for his army stationed there. With his reputation fading infront of the other colonial powers, he sends his most trusted follower, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) the the Congo to find and gather the legendary diamonds of Opar.

So, what happens next? :: Leon and his group of soldiers are ambushed and except him, each gets murdered by the tribe that guards the diamonds. The leader of the tribe, Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), has a discussion, and offers him the diamonds in exchange for an old enemy whose death is considered as his salvation, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard). But there is no longer a Tarzan, as he is now John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), who has settled down at his ancestral home in London with his American wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie) with no more of the thoughts related to Africa. Even though his tales have a certain kind of legendary status in the city, he doesn’t intend to go back to the forest and has managed to blend into what all were part of the civilised life there. With his adaptation of the Victorian lifestyle, there would be no man who would identify him as not part of London.

So, where does the twist happen? :: Through the British Prime Minister (Jim Broadbent), he knows that he is invited by King Leopold to visit the Congo and see its development. An American envoy, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) also requests him to have a look to see how the native population is treated there, as he feels that the king’s men have enslaved them terribly – finally Tarzan agrees. After being persuaded by Jane, he allows her to accompany him along with George. As they arrive at Congo and rest at a tribal village with the inhabitants being known to them from their earlier stay, they are captured by the troops of Leon, but Tarzan and George escapes. Tarzan will not rest until he finds Leon and finish him after rescuing Jane. But with the guns of the Belgian troops and mercenaries against him along with one ferocious tribe looking for his blood, can he accomplish the same?

The defence of The Legend of Tarzan :: It always good to have a new take on the tales that we have read as children, and this movie also provides the same, and works as a nice sequel for the people who have lived through this man’s tale. There are some very nice action sequences in this one, and the best of them should be Tarzan traveling on the ropes, and fighting his ape-brother. There are some really good performances to support this too, with Alexander Skarsgard leading the way as Tarzan, a role which he seems to have taken in as the way it is supposed to. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie excels as Jane, with her character seemingly having more dimensions than a usual fan would have thought – something which we saw more intensely with her Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad; the two characters are poles apart, but she has nailed them both, without leaving one with chances of questioning – unless there are some dumb questions to ask, for which there is no shortage as long as there are people.

The claws of flaw :: The flashbacks in the story are not really that good, as it comes at those times when we are going through the flow of the proceedings, and the journey back only breaks it. There is also some slowing down in the pace of the movie, and there are times when it makes us wait rather too much for the next thing to happen. More firepower could have been used, and more beautiful shots were to be used in the jungle which had so much possibilities – they have had the basic material about Tarzan for such a long time, and there is this technology, and they could have easily made this one without the slowness and the dull moments which come in here and there. There is also no doubt that Tarzan could have used a better thought process behind it, but as it is now, it remains an interesting action-adventure that takes you back to the childhood days – it is never really away from the movie that we wished to watch in the childhood.

Release date: 1st July 2016
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, Christoph Waltz, Casper Crump, Hadley Fraser, Genevieve O’Reilly, Yule Masiteng, Simon Russell Beale, Matt Cross as Akut, Madeleine Worrall, William Wollen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Huntsman

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What is it about? :: The movie begins a long time before the incidents which were depicted in Snow White and the Huntsman, as Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), the dark sorceress finds out that her younger sister Freya (Emily Blunt) has an affair with Andrew (Colin Morgan), and is carrying her child. But the marriage doesn’t happen as Andrew is engaged to someone else, and after giving birth to a baby girl, Freya on a dark night, sees that he has murdered their child. This unleashes an uncontrolled fury in her which brings out the hidden powers of ice and snow from inside her, killing her lover and transforming her love into hate. She abandons her sister’s kingdom and comes up with a new kingdom in the north which is covered in ice and snow under her power.

So what happens next? :: It is a new world of depression and sadness that she creates far north to the kingdom of her sister who unleashes her own evil. She gets children kidnapped so that they could be trained to become remorseless huntsmen, who were to become part of her army. She raises the group to become her soldiers who know no love and has no regret. All of them trains to become the elite group of huntsmen who are feared and fight her battles. Soon she finds the best of them in Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), but they only fall in love many years later, something that she can never agree to. She successfully separates them, and the former lives in the grief of having watched the latter die.

And then to the present :: Then the scene shifts to many years later, after the incidents of the first movie, as Eric is wandering through the forest only to find that Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is ill and the magic mirror has gone missing. Freya is having an eye on these lands, and the dark magic in the mirror threatens the kingdom. Now it is up-to Eric the Huntsman to save the day and he is joined by Nion (Nick Frost) and his half-brother Gryff (Rob Brydon). Two other dwarves Bromwyn (Sheridan Smith) and Doreena (Alexandra Roach) also join their team. There will be magic and there shall be goblins on their way. Freya has sent her own team of huntsmen, but another big surprise awaits them. What about true love? Does it go beyond death and devastation?

The defence of The Huntsman: Winter’s War :: There is one thing that a person can be sure about here, and it is that The Huntsman: Winter’s War is cent percent a better movie than its predecessor Snow White and the Huntsman which was so empty a movie with empty expressions from its heroine. We also have some of the most amazing visuals here, with all the magic around. The snow and ice on the screen never ceases to be interesting. With magical creatures added, there is the further scope for visual beauty an that is explored very well here. The final scene of battle is also a very good one, which means that the movie manages to finish off really well. It is mostly all that a fairy-tale should be, and is a clear improvement from the predecessor; the lower box-office collection should go to the credit of the terrible predecessor which had already ruined the opinion about what was to follow.

The claws of flaw :: There are those predictable lines going through this movie too. A number of things can be guessed, and there is no real attempt to try differently either. The journey from a prequel to sequel goes rather strange too – it could have been just the sequel with a very small flashback and that could have worked out perfectly. There is also the chance to make use of its potential, which is not fully taken. Charlize Theron is underused, and we needed more battles of magic like the final one. In a movie in which there are two evil sorceresses, we see a little too less use of powerful magic. There is also the case of the mirror which should have been better utilized. There are those times when the direction of the movie is a little doubtful and some of the jokes also go on without making the desired effect.

Performers of the soul :: Even though Charlize Theron is there only for a few minutes, she has that kind of a presence that is strong enough to steal the show. We are sure to ask for more of her. Meanwhile, Emily Blunt shines in her ice and snow avatar while Jessica Chastain remains just okay in her role as the huntswoman. Maybe these two could have switched their roles to bring a better effect as we all know what the former is capable of in such a role with her Rita Vrataski in Edge of Tomorrow. Chris Hemsworth continues the same thing as he did with the earlier movie, and that manages to be okay. The actors and actresses who played the dwarves bring some good fun. It is nice to have gotten rid of Kristen Stewart’s Snow White though, as that certainly made things a lot better.

How it finishes :: As many other fairy-tales, this one also focuses on that one special thing, which is true love. The main idea here itself is about the two main protagonists and the lost love even though the villains do steal the show in between. It is the usual battle between love and hate that goes on here, and the much awaited defeat of evil waiting to happen by the finish. As a whole, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is an entertaining movie which takes those usual elements of fairy-tales and deals them well enough with some interesting messages. It was just too much underrated by the audience and the critics judging it as a part of its predecessor. There are things that fairy-tales could do, and this one thankfully knows that well enough.

Release date: 22nd April 2016
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon, Alexandra Roach, Sheridan Smith, Sope Dirisu, Colin Morgan, Fred Tatasciore, Sam Hazeldine, Sophie Cookson, Madeleine Worrall, Kristen Stewart

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.