Cinderella

Vampire Owl: How many Cinderella movies have we watched?

Vampire Bat: I have lost count this time.

Vampire Owl: And how many more Cinderella movies will we watch?

Vampire Bat: It is also not something we can guess.

Vampire Owl: If Cinderella was a vampire, this would have been so perfect.

Vampire Bat: We don’t really have fairy-tales in the vampire world.

Vampire Owl: One doesn’t really need them, right?

Vampire Bat: Well, fairy-tales are lies, we all know that.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that humans are not really short of lies.

Vampire Bat: And they even want us to believe the same.

[Gets a beetroot cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Vivian (Idina Menzel) leads her life in a village of hardworking people with her daughters (Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer), as well as her stepdaughter Ella, then known as Cinderella (Camila Cabello) who is different from her stubborn sisters. She does almost everything in the house, but is not considered to be someone of importance. Nobody in the house likes her, and wastes no time in scolding or making fun of her, despite her best efforts to make things better. Everyone at home considers her to be an orphan, even though she is daughter to the mother’s earlier husband. It is then that Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is in requirement of a wife, but he is not really that much into it – King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan) and Queen Beatrice (Minnie Driver) are not really happy about it though, as they would have preferred him to marry someone whom they admired and win many colonies as wedding gift in the process.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As Robert goes on living his life, not intending to be the grand kind that everyone wanted to be, Princess Gwen (Tallulah Greive) hopes to be rule the realm as a queen, an idea which nobody is interested in, but she does manage to provide some ideas in between, which mostly wouldn’t suit the world she lived in. Robert would meet Cinderella in the market though, as she was trying the dress which she had designed. For them to meet again, they have to come together in a ball, and she also wants to find buyers for her clothes, and Fairy Godmother (Billy Porter) prepares her for the same, supported by the mice (James Acaster, James Corden and Romesh Ranganathan) who are transformed into men and are supposed to take her to the palace on a magical chariot. Now the question remains if she can fall in love and sell her clothes at the same time, or whether she will fail as her stepmother and stepsisters would have always thought she would. The possibilities are endless.

The defence of Cinderella :: The first song by Ella is the best one with the music, and there are a few nice songs, even though none of them rise much above that particular level, while there are some which are not interesting at all. The visuals are really good, and the magic of the original fair-tale story is maintained, even though it seems to be so more by compulsion rather than anything else – maybe this film could have been named something else and played into another tale instead of calling Cinderella for help. There are some nice ideas in the background, that is for sure, but in the implementation, it often falls on the nose, and still we find something here and there. It does have the support of some fine performances in moments, and it also thrives on the moments. After all, we can’t just avoid a Cinderella movie when it comes, even when it deviates too much from the original ideas, and even if it is not the Cinderella that we knew or wanted to watch.

The claws of flaw :: For a Cinderella movie, this one is really strange. Its deviations often feel dumb, and often it feels useless. We have watched so many Cinderella films that we know what the story should really be about despite adding something not suiting at all. Some of the music does get irritating, just like a few of the characters fo manage to do. It is the same reason why it also feels foolish at times. The director here does have some weird and silly ideas about making a Cinderella film, and one has to understand that there are a few things which really make a Cinderella, just like without a few things, some classics and fairytales are not complete – Hamlet needs vengeance, Macbeth needs the witch-like creatures, Rapunzel needs the long hair etc. This is where Cinderella making the unnecessary deviation without creativity falls behind, and in the process, it is also too long a film, considering what kind of content it has.

Performers of the soul :: A lot of characters in the movie do look strange, even though many of them seems to excel in this. Camila Cabello is really good, without doubt, and the same can be said about Idina Menzel and Pierce Brosnan. Camila Cabello has some fine moments which rise a long way up, while it is always good to see Pierce Brosnan in any role. Idina Menzel has her stepmother role smaller than what one would have expected. Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer plays the usual stepdaughters of the good old fairytale. Nicholas Galitzine and Minnie Driver are okay, but seem to overdo things at some moments, and some of their dialogues are ridiculously silly – but that is more or less inheriting the silly mood of the film itself. Tallulah Greive plays basically a useless role, and she doesn’t have enough screen-space either. A number of smaller characters in this film seems to be strangely written, and we would have actually done better without them as some of them also manage to look much ridiculous. Billy Porter as the fairy godmother is nonsense.

How it finishes :: Cinderella with this version is enjoyable only because of parts. Otherwise, it is irritating in other parts. It needed better music and try not to use nonsense to sell its ideas. These won’t suit in a Cinderella film either, but as it does look good, and because we have always loved Cinderella, we go on with it. As it has released on Amazon Prime Video, there is always the option to fast forward those unnecessary elements. When people try to divert a classic fairytale without not much thinking, I can assure you that there are many areas where you wish to fast forward. If you accept people’s right to be silly if they have a high budget, and enjoy the rest, you can enjoy the magic with the visual extravaganza. Well, we have accepted many stupid films which looked good or a few others with dumb fun, it is very much possible to be entertained by this.

Release date: 3rd September 2021
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Kay Cannon
Starring: Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter, Pierce Brosnan, Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer, Tallulah Greive

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Witches

Vampire Owl: It is strange that we are being called by the witches too.

Vampire Bat: The vampires are now more accepted in a society than ever.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t say that about each and every vampire.

Vampire Bat: Well, humans create divisions among themselves and also divide vampires.

Vampire Owl: The absence of politicians among us has hindered those divisions.

Vampire Bat: I would say that we should divide them before they do the same to us.

Vampire Owl: I find the possibility of bringing more divisions to humans as too easy.

Vampire Bat: But the question still remains if there is space for more of them.

Vampire Owl: Well, lets first go and play, and we will know later.

Vampire Bat: I hope that they have at least set a good athletic sport and not something as lazy as golf or cricket.

[Gets a vegetable burger and three cups of orange juice].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno) losses both his parents to a car accident on a snow evening, and his grandmother (Octavia Spencer) comes to his aid. She takes him home, and does everything to keep him happy when he is wih her. She was someone who used to be known as a healer among her people, and knew how to make sick people feel better. The boy also gets a pet mouse which he names Daisy. One day, the boy is approached by a witch with a snake in her hands, and while she tries to cast a spell on him, grandmother comes and ruins the magic. The grandmother also starts coughing, and as he tells her the story of the lady whom he had met, she realizes that it was a witch, and decides to leave the place with the boy to avoid any more meetings with the witch, as she did have a past with one of such creatures when she was a child. They decide to go to a hotel where her cousin is the chief cook, and stay there, safe from the witches.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But things there are not that safe as they thought. A group of witches led by their all-powerful great leader, The Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway), arrives there, and the team includes the one the boy had met earlier. At the same time, the boy meets Bruno Jenkins (Codie-Lei Eastick), a boy who is addicted to food, and highly attached to chocolates. As the boy secretly enters a large hall to train his mouse, he is forced to hide, with witches coming in to hold their meeting. He sees them in their true forms, as they have claws instead of fingernails, which is hidden by wearing gloves; they are bald, and adjust by wearing wigs; have square sized feet without toes, which they hide under sensible shoes; strange and scary forms for the boy. There, the boy hears them making their grand plans, as The Grand High Witch tells them to give the all the children in the world a potion, mixed into sweets, that can transform all of them into mice, starting with Bruno. Now, he and his mouse should find a way to stop them.

The defence of The Witches :: It can be seen that the movie does capture our interest well enough from the beginning itself, as the starting scenes make a fine build-up. The special effects as well as the performances contribute nicely here, and it will appeal the most to children, with whom the movie can have some instant connection. The children would find most of the approach taken by the film to be adorable, and the pattern is the same which has been adopted by such stories for decades. There is the usual folk-tale and fairy-tale power that comes from behind it. The unpredictability factor, maybe coming out of the original book by Roald Dahl, a man who has something for the twists as we know from Lamb to the Slaughter, the much appreciated twisted short stories which became part of the syllabus of many universities including our own MG University’s Modes of Fiction paper. It is always good to see the witches, after vampires, zombies and werewolves ruled the big screen and novels for too long.

The claws of flaw :: The Witches is not that strong as it should have been, with any element attached to it. The film could have used a lot of elements of magic in there, and the whole thing could have lit up with colourful spells – maybe even with a touch of darkness to add to it. There is no clear movement towards a colourful, light world or towards that world of terror, as the movie stays reluctant, playing in the safe side, never taking the risks from the beginning to the end. The finish could have also been bigger in scope. There is also supposed to be an older version, which is supposed to be better than this, at least according to the critics. Finding of faults will be easy for this movie for people who live in the far away past, but not the same for those who understand it from the time when the book was published. The movie also came a little bit late, because an OTT release in April or May would have brought more viewers, with children not having schools, and colleges having some kind of semester breaks in between.

Performers of the soul :: Anne Hathaway comes up with a fantastic performance as the witch to remember, with a funny side – the last time we saw such a thing was related to Eva Green in Dark Shadows. She has blended into the witch-role really well. She is the one person on whom this movie can depend on, not only as the big performer, but the one huge name that everyone knows about – she has been a superstar even in the areas where people don’t remember the name of Hollywood celebrities. Octavia Spencer is there in a role which suits her really well right from the beginning itself. Jahzir Kadeem Bruno who plays the main kid does a really good job. Stanley Tucci as the manager of the grand hotel is fun throughout the film’s run. The other witches are also come up with a nice job, even though they don’t really get to do anything in particular individually. It is all left for the leader of the witches, and that comes as rather surprising, because more witch identities and some special powers to add to the same would have been nice to watch with the availability of special effects.

How it finishes :: The Witches does have your attention as the one film which seems to sparkle with its poster being shown among the new releases on the OTT platform. We did have one movie named The Witch a few years later which dealt with everything in an entirely different way. The movie we have here is certainly not the serious one among the two, focusing more on simple basic entertainment rather than anything else. There can be some accusations against this one, but those simple things can be passed over as things of no importance, as this is the kind of film which thrives on the cute silliness, and will appeal to the younger audience really well. Well, this is another movie which will keep us interested in the escapist mode, as this world where the witches go among the humans to deal with the children whom they consider to be brats, is a good addition during the COVID-19 lockdown which never really seems to end. This is the kind of old style entertainment that we need to keep us going through a world of chaos.

Release date: 22nd October 2020 (USA), 5th June 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth, Codie-Lei Eastick, Jahzir Kadeem Bruno, Charles Edwards, Morgana Robinson, Josette Simon, Eugenia Caruso, Ana-Maria Maskell, Orla O’Rourke, Penny Lisle, Simon Manyonda, Philippe Spall, Brian Bovell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Frozen II

Vampire Owl: Everyone is frozen at home due to COVID-19, and we are watching the second part of this movie.

Vampire Bat: COVID-19 has been a serious crisis in the vampire world too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the last world vampire conference was held in twenty five districts because they had to keep the distance.

Vampire Bat: For the undead, it wouldn’t show any symptoms. We would just die.

Vampire Owl: Death after death is a highly disappointing thing.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we become immortal, and then we die. It is ridiculous.

Vampire Owl: The vampire doctors including Mr. Frankenstein are saying that this was spread by werewolves.

Vampire Bat: This could have been the result of a pure evil magic potion prepared by the Northern Witches.

Vampire Owl: Or maybe spread by a zombie bat?

Vampire Bat: Bats becoming zombies are abominations. I wouldn’t discuss them.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: King Runeard (Jeremy Sisto), long ago, had established a treaty between the people of the kingdom and those of the forest, by building a dam for the better utilization of resources by the forest tribe. But all of a sudden, a fight breaks out between the soldiers of the kingdom and the fighters of the forest tribe, leading to the death of Runeard and also that of the tribe leader, leading to a division between the two, and the forest being engulfed in an enchanted fog created by the spirits of nature, letting nobody inside and allowed nobody to go out. The enraged elemental spirits of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air of the forest had only one person escaping to the kingdom of Arendelle, Agnarr (Alfred Molina) who later became the king after the death of his father with Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood) as his queen. The tale go only this far for Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell).

So, what happens with the events here? :: Years after her coronation, Anna and Elsa are having some good time during the autumn season with Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Kristoff’s reindeer Sven along with the subjects in the kingdom. Elsa has been listening to a mysterious calling, and her response to the same awakens the four elemental spirits, Earth, Water, Air and Fire. With these spirits threatening the kingdom, Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven set off to find the problem’s root cause, leaving the people with Pabbie (Ciaran Hinds), the leader of the Rock Trolls. The team is taken in by the enchanted forest, but are trapped in there with no chance for exit. There they meet the air spirit first, followed by two groups of soldiers from both sides who are still in conflict with each other.

And what else follows with the happenings? :: Elsa and Anna manage to make peace between the two groups of soliders as they realized that the queen of the kingdom is from their tribe, and she was the one who saved the king and escaped with him from the enchanted forest years ago. Meanwhile, Kristoff keeps thinking about proposing to Anna, but doesn’t succeed in the same for which asks for her from Ryder (Jason Ritter) who shares his interest in reindeers. They come up against earth spirits, a group of giants made out of rocks, but manage to evade them. They find their parents’ destroyed ship and a map with a route to Ahtohallan, a mythical river which could answer all their questions. Elsa decides to go there alone, and with Kristoff and Sven already left behind, leaves Anna and Olaf to float down in a boat made of ice as she decides to take on the water spirit on her way through water. But there is a long way to go, and can she do it alone?

The defence of Frozen II :: The animation remains the strong point of the movie. There are also the special effects – what you see on the screen is nothing less than spectacular, getting you right into that world, and frost just gets to you if you are sitting in a theatre, especially a newer multiplex. The visual effects do the job like not many animated movies can do, and in a world of magic, it asserts the strength of the same. The characters are lovable, and we feel very close to them, even though they are part of that fantasy world only. They become part of us as much as the technical skill on display. The songs are pretty good too, and the messages are once again clear, with family bonding, not just between the sisters, but going further. Frozen will continue to have advantage over the other so called big animated movies like How to Train Your Dragon, Rio, Despicable Me, Finding Nemo, Cars, Ice Age, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and the others which have turned into successful franchises.

Positives and negatives in a world of enchantment :: The case of repetition could be there up to an extent. Frozen had already established a “happily ever after”, and due to the same, this could have been a reverse fantasy on another day. People might have the opinion that a sequel was not needed, considering how perfect the first movie seemed to be. A certain amount of deviation can be declared too. Finding fault with this sequel is more of a process which can be done in relation with the first movie, and not as a stand-alone flick, and it is something which a person who hasn’t watched the first film will understand with ease. We can also move on without finding any fault in this case, as this movie has no shortage of entertainment, with action, adventure and even a funny side – the cuteness factor is also at the highest with this movie in comparison with any other animated movie that strives to do the same for the audience.

How it finishes :: Frozen 2 might not be able to claim that much of a splendour as its predecessor which held the title of the highest grossing animated movie of all-time, even though the sequel has overtaken Frozen, but it has to be noted that the first position is no longer there to be taken. The two Frozen movies are now on second and third positions in that list. But that wouldn’t take away this movie’s claim as a worthy successor because the first movie had set a level which was almost impossible to meet, and this one had to stay close to what was established. The spectacular world which has been created in this film is sure to catch our attention, and the soul of the first movie is carried on, which will make this an interesting watch, and something to feel happy during the time when Corona virus is making its way through nations. Frozen 2 has the beauty of snow, hues and magic brought in style yet again for your eyes.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood, Sterling K Brown, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Rachel Matthews, Jason Ritter, Jeremy Sisto, Ciaran Hinds, Aurora

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pinocchio

Vampire Owl: I know this person very well from childhood itself.

Vampire Bat: It is a fictional character from the children’s novel The Adventures of written by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so it is from the land of Renaissance indeed,

Vampire Bat: Yes, most people don’t really know that this tale is not really English.

Vampire Owl: But it went on to become so popular all around the world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is that kind of a story that appeals to everyone.

Vampire Owl: And it is a fine story to read for the children of all ages.

Vampire Bat: We also add an Italian movie dealing with the same story to our list on this day.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one will become a fine deviation from our usual path.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and takes us back to childhood too, at least in parts.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter has a hard time making his living, as he rarely gets any work, and nobody appreciates him for the quality products which he come up with. But one day, he sees a puppet theatre in the town, and becomes a lot interested in creating a puppet all by himself. He feels that he could create something special which would be appreciated all around the world for its beauty on wood. He manages to get a log of wood which its owner wanted to leave behind because it seemed to have some kind of magic associated with it. Geppetto spends all his time creating the perfect puppet, and in the end, when he finishes the same, he finds out that it can talk. After naming the puppet Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), he decides to take him as his son. But the newfound son out of the log isn’t really an obedient one, as he keeps exercising his freedom against the wishes of his father.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Pinocchio does get into trouble due to his actions, and Geppetto decides to send him to school, so that he would study well and also mingle with the other children of the town. Geppetto sells his inherited jacket to buy Pinocchio an ABC book which is necessary to accepted into the school. Pinocchio does go for his first day at school, but notices a puppet theater, and he ends up selling the book to buy the ticket. In the theater, the other puppets notice Pinocchio among the viewers and calls him up the stage, thus messing up the show. A furious puppeteer Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti) catches Pinocchio and locks him in his caravan with the others puppets, and leaves the town. Mangiafuoco who has been very angry about what had happened, plans to use Pinocchio as firewood to help cooking his dinner. Pinocchio begs him to release him in order to return home from his father, who would be very much worried by then.

And what else is to follow around here with the puppet? :: Mangiafuoco decides to let him go, and seeing his compassion towards the other puppets who he saves from being burned, he gives him five gold coins to give to the poor carpenter whom he calls father. Pinocchio is really happy about it, and tries to get home as soon as possible, but is lost in his way, not sure where he is heading. As he tries to find the right directions, he meets Fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and Cat (Rocco Papaleo) who discovers that the puppet has some gold coins with him which they can use during their jobless ways. They tell him a tale about the Field of Miracles, a special place where they can bury the coins, and a tree full of money will grow rapidly. But they intend to murder the puppet and take the money. They make some fine plans for the same, and takes a room in the nearby tavern. Pinocchio is not aware of such sinister plans, and despite being warned by Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Can the puppet keep the money and finally get to his father who is looking for him?

The defence of Pinocchio :: The movie, as expected is a journey to a special world, and those who have known the tale before, will relate to the same very well. There is a beautiful world that provides a certain amount of enchantment close to the original version, and we have one puppet who is not familiar with the ways of humans going through. Roberto Benigni whom we know from the movie Life is Beautiful is here again playing the father figure, and that is indeed beautiful, as we remember how he managed to be a great father there – here, he is not far behind either. The one who used his imagination to shield his son from the terror within a Nazi concentration camp is not to be forgotten that easily. Marine Vacth who plays the fairy and many others also catch our attention, being out of the usual world, getting close to fantasy. With the cat, fox, snail, cricket, characters, the movie is as child-friendly as anything can get, and therefore makes itself a fine watch for the families. Well, a journey through rural Italy of those times never really gets to be less interesting for the eyes.

The claws of flaw :: Pinocchio might be different in looks from what many people might have imagined him earlier. The movie could have had a certain amount of visible magic in there too, not as being regular part of the proceedings, but as something completely out of the world. For the same, more special effects could have been used to create a visual extravaganza, because even lesser films these days seem to display the grandeur – after all, this is a children’s classic of a higher level on print. The fact that the puppet keeps falling into trouble due to not listening to the good advice makes it feel repetitive, especially for the adults who would be a long way past this tale by now – even I don’t remember most of what I read during my childhood. It could have also had more focus on the father-son relationship because the puppet as the adventurer is not of that much interest as a person, and we have to look forward to the fairy to find the next lovable character, followed by the snail. The growing nose could have also been used better.

How it finishes :: As far as the idea of Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author Carlo Collodi is concerned, this one manages the same well, and it is to be noted that usually the adaptations are supposed to come in the form of cartoons. Making a live-action movie with this type of characters is indeed difficult, but we can see that they have managed everything pretty well here. The Adventures of Pinocchio has been the world’s most translated book excluding religious works and had such a great impact on different cultures, also being a children’s favourite. But we see that it also explores the human condition, about what it means to be human, right here. We do have that usual child who doesn’t like to go to the school, and is not interested in obeying parents, with a certain love for entertainment and adventure over the rest, and is naive when facing the dangers of the outside world. Yes, this version is a successful one too, and you can choose to watch it, without expecting anything too special or highly innovative.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth, Gigi Proietti, Paolo Graziosi, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Timo, Davide Marotta, Alessio Di Domenicantonio

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Abigail

***This Russian movie is officially the 600th movie review on this website, and it is not the post number, which is much higher. This count does not include the posts with television series reviews, yearly round-ups, introductions, movie previews and genre or language based ranking lists. Thanks to everyone who supported me with likes, shares, comments, follows or just randomly spreading the word.

Vampire Owl: I am going to choose this as the name for the next vampire child.

Vampire Bat: You have started naming vampire children?

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is a new business which I have started.

Vampire Bat: You mean that you have started a new business, hoping for more of new vampire children.

Vampire Owl: I had to start a new business. Everything else was dull due to the Corona Virus which the humans are spreading.

Vampire Bat: You can watch this fantasy adventure movie with magic to have more names.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I could have named even that virus. Corona is such a weak name. COVID is even weaker.

Vampire Bat: I would suggest not to use the names which will come first in the school register. The children will curse the one who named them.

Vampire Owl: I would name them with an Z in the beginning.

Vampire Bat: The names are to be liked by the parents too. Do remember that.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of special tea].

What is the movie about? :: Abigail Foster (Tinatin Dalakishvili) lives in a town which is supposed to have had an epidemic spreading, and was sealed by the government. Her father Jonathan Foster (Eddie Marsan) was one of the people who were supposed to have fallen ill, and had a chance to infect many others, leading to him being taken away at a time when Abigail was only six years old. As Abigail grows up, and has some time with the local children, she is forced to face one of the officers who were dealing with the disease control programmes, landing her in trouble. The nation calls for complete obedience during the time of the pandemic, and so any action which can possibly lead to the spread of diseases wouldn’t be tolerated. This perfect subordination is supposed to be the one thing that can stop the epidemic from becoming something which would cause the deaths of many thousands of people.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Abigail understands that one of the masked officers is Roy (Petar Zekavitsa), her uncle who had disappeared on the same night when her father was taken by the authorities. Going against the authorities to find her father, Abigail learns that her city is actually place full of magic, and the authorities are trying to stop the people with magical abilities to share it with others or to display it in public. There was no epidemic other than magic which they wanted to cure. She also discovers that there are some special magical abilities in herself, and along with the search, she also has to keep herself safe from the officials who will hunt her down too. But there might be more secrets to be unveiled than she could handle. Can Abigail come out strong from this adventure in which she faces more and more hurdles? Will someone be ready to help her, going against the authorities who wish to suppress all magic?

The defence of Abigail :: The special effects score the highest in this movie, successfully recreating a world of magic, even better than most of the much acclaimed movies – the movie is a visual stunner, and let nobody tell you otherwise as it would be a lie. The action sequences are mostly supported by magic, which gives a fantastic feeling on the screen. The music also nice to hear, and they seems to have used special care in the use of background music according to the circumstances. It also adds to providing strength to that steampunk feeling which was already attempted through the visuals – yes, you have to love the world in display here, whether it is real or magic. After all, such a world provides the needed escapism, as everything comes together in the end, as it leads to one grand battle which you can remember and recollect. The escapist fantasy might be what prevents you from thinking too much, and getting immersed into its created universe.

The claws of flaw :: Abigail doesn’t know how to progress through the story, as it keeps falling down from the heights which it climbs. Even with a grand beginning, there is no real effort to keep it rising. Some of the dialogues feel strange, and not suiting the movie and its mood in any way. Some of them are exactly opposite of what a situation would demand. A certain problem with the dubbing might be the case here leading to the mess. They could have surely made this better with all the resources which they had, and such a fine start which was there. The confusion in the story can be seen at different places, and the focus does shift too often. By the time everything comes together in the end, some people might have lost interest, unless they were immersed in this escapism. Maybe many years later, there can be a reboot which solves the problems of this movie, or even a sequel or a prequel which explores this particular world really well.

Performers of the soul :: Abigail doesn’t thrive on its performances much, and it uses the visuals to hide any flaw out there, not just with this, but also the other elements which are all inferior to the visuals and special effects of the flick. The protagonist is played by Tinatin Dalakishvili who is okay for most of the time, and she does have her moments, but also gets some terrible lines in the movie, which is rather disappointing, whichever way we look at it, because we do see talent in her, and she never gets to use it here. At the same time, Eddie Marsan is perfect as the father figure, whenever he is there. Gleb Bochkov as Bale doesn’t impress much, while Ravshana Kurkova manages to do well enough as Stella, but she is side-lined, which is rather disappointing. Overall, the cast struggles to stay around the average level, and even though there is a rise on occasions, there is also the fall, which can be felt more in this movie.

How it finishes :: Abigail is a movie which is rather unknown around here, and as a Russian movie, I don’t think it managed to get a dubbed or subtitled release at this part of the world – even I am heard about this film for the first time rather too late. It is a movie which had a grand idea behind it, and with the support of the fantastic visuals and lovely music, could have brought an epic on the screen, but as of now, it has managed to be a pretty good work – not the best which you will find, but one of the interesting fantasy movies with a steampunk setting, and magic all around. This is also the second Russian movie which I have watched after the 1925 Soviet silent film Battleship Potemkin directed by Sergei Eisenstein, the great pioneer in the theory as well as practice of montage. Watch Abigail, and wander through another world of magic, which you have known in the other grand worlds of fantasy – forget the negative reviews, and see how much this world can take you in, and have you interested.

Release date: 23rd August 2019
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Aleksandr Boguslavsky
Starring: Tinatin Dalakishvili, Gleb Bochkov, Rinal Mukhametov, Artyom Tkachenko, Ravshana Kurkova, Ksenia Kutepova, Olivier Siou, Cecile Plage, Nikita Tarasov, Petar Zekavitsa, Nikita Dyuvbanov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aladdin

What is the movie about? :: Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a young man living in the streets of Agrabah with his pet monkey, with no parents and no idea about family. He is considered as a petty thief living in the streets, stealing one thing or the other to keep going, and his monkey is not far behind in the same skill. In the streets, he meet Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) who has dressed up as a commoner and is wandering in the streets. After giving some bread to a few starving children without paying for the same, they are chased by the soldiers, and she leaves him with the idea that he is just a thief, as he fails to return her bracelet which his monkey had taken. But Aladdin decides to get it back to the lady whom he misunderstands as the princess’ handmaiden Dalia (Nasim Pedrad). At a time when she is bothered by suitors from different nations like Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen), Aladdin sneaks into the palace.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: His skills are noticed by the Grand Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the chief advisor to The Sultan (Navid Negahban). Even though he is the second most powerful person in the kingdom, he wants more, and for the same, he needs a magic lamp hidden within the Cave of Wonders. It is a near impossible task, and as Aladdin enters the palace unnoticed, he decides to use the skills of the young man to get the lamp from the cave which has been unkind to those who tried to take the lamp earlier. In return for the same, he offers the youth from the street infinite riches and even the attention of the princess. But as Aladdin gets into the cave, he realizes that it is no ordinary cave, and the lamp is not the usual one – it has the Genie (Will Smith) who is ready with three wishes. But will that be enough to marry the beautiful princess?

And what more is to happen? :: Genie hopes that the last wish of Aladdin would be about setting him free. Jafar hopes that he could get his hands on the magic lamp at some point. Jasmine hopes that it is not just her curves that is loved by her suitors, but also her ideas, with a desire to become the ruler of her kingdom one day. Aladdin would go back to the palace by the name Prince Ali, and hope to gain the attention of the princess and win her hand. But it turns out that Jasmine is not at all interested in the newly arrived prince despite him displaying all the wealth that Genie had brought. Despite Jasmine’s lack of interest, there would be Jaffar’s interest, as his evil plans continue. With his desire to become the most powerful man in the kingdom as well as the known world, what could stop him? Will there be a better fate in store for the kingdom?

The defence of Aladdin :: The memories of childhood comes back with Aladdin, as we remember those days of watching a lot of cartoon and that music which goes by the lines, Arabian Nights. Nostalgia surely becomes a grand factor here, and not just Princess Jasmine, but also her handmaiden remains adorable. Even though there is nothing spectacular about the fight scenes, the visual beauty can be seen there as well as with the city itself. The whole place is nicely built, and the magical elements add to the visuals well. There are some nice fun sequences around here, and Will Smith plays the big part in the same. These keep the fun element going. Coming from the man who brought Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, along with The Man from UNCLE, one could surely guess a few things about this one, and raise the level of expectations.

The claws of flaw :: The problem here is that there is the feeling of not being able to make this one better than what we had seen in the past, even though the ideas as well as technology did improve a lot. A visual extravaganza in the desert could have meant more. The Arabian Nights song version here is not that interesting as the original one, and often the Genie fails to rise as the character and becomes more of the actor that plays the same – Will Smith. At the expense of making the main female character stronger, the viewers are presented with a weaker villain who never really seems like he could come up with something terrifying. The changes from the original version are not really improvements, but strange diversions that take the essence away from what we know about Aladdin – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time could actually do this better, whichever way we look at the same.

The performers of the soul :: The top performer of this movie is Naomi Scott, and she goes through the whole movie with charm, scoring heavily in the final moments. One can see that she plays her character to such perfection at some moments that we feel that she could do well with a sequel, further away from the original Aladdin story. She is lovely to watch on the screen from the beginning, to the end. Mena Massoud’s titular character is memorable, and has his own moments. Will Smith brings the funny side very well, even though deviated from our idea of a genie – some are surely overdone, but he holds on really well. Marwan Kenzari as Jafar brings a weaker villain, and one has to wonder if that was intentional. Nasim Pedrad as Dalia is a fine addition of a character. The animal characters are nicely worked on too.

How it finishes :: Aladdin makes an interesting watch with family, especially with kids. It keeps going the light-hearted way, and there is no real menace to be seen, as we go through this safe trip. The movie could have actually began with its action rather than using the story within the story setting – it ruins the chance to bring a certain twist. Well, Aladdin could have been lesser like Robin Hood last year, and there were so many chances of it to miss out, but it does hold on and brings Aladdin well enough to touch our nostalgia. With Avengers: Endgame and John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum continuing to stay, this one can also accompany them, as Hollywood movies have been scoring bigger these days. Also, lets wonder what more could have been added to this particular movie.

Release date: 24th May 2019
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Mena Massoud, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pretham 2

What is the movie about? :: Famous mentalist John Don Bosco (Jayasurya) is spending his time in peace at Varikkasseri Mana a.k.a. Varikkumanchery Mana, one of the traditional Brahmin houses located at Manissery, a village in Ottapalam, Palakkad. Situated in an area of natural beauty in a plot of about four acres, John feels that there is something strange and mysterious about the place. With a history of popular movies being shot there including Devasuram, Aaraam Thampuran, Raappakal, Drona, Simhasanam, Sufi Paranja Katha, Thooval Kottaram, Valliettan and Manthrikan, a group of youngsters decide to come there to shoot a short-film. They are from a Facebook group known as “Cinema Pranthanmar”, which is known to be a perfect place for movie lovers from all around Kerala. This particular adventure could feed the movie lover in them more than anything else.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The team is lead by Tapas (Amith Chakkalakal) who comes up with this idea of having a short film. He plans to create this film, and run a premiere after inviting all the members of the group which goes into thousands. Joining him are those members whom he had never met, and used the group with their fake names; the first one to join him is the man known in the group by his fake id Mangalassery Neelakandan, Ramanandan (Sidhartha Siva) who is into hotel business in the Middle East and is a big Mohanlal fan. They are joined by Karuthamma, originally Anu (Durga Krishna) who is a nurse and Shahrukh Khan, originally Niranjana (Saniya Iyappan) who is a professional dancer. The last person to join them in Joffin (Dain Davis) who has run away from home due to personal problems with his father.

So, how does the ghost come into picture this time? :: The problem at the resort of Denny Kokken (Aju Varghese), Priyalal (Sharafudheen), Shibu Majeed (Govind Padmasoorya) and Yeshu (Dharmajan Bolgatty) was one which haunted John for a long time, and here, with the youngsters making the short-film, more trouble arrives, and the supernatural only gets stronger. The youngsters are attacked by some strange forces and nobody seems to know what is happening. Their first guess is that it is the spirit of the person who owned and lived in the mansion, but it turns out that there is more than what meets eye at the first place. There is a connection which is making the spirit act there, and John has to begin with it and reach the end soon, before it is too late and someone gets into serious trouble. But it is not that easy, as the clues are less, and the answer to their questions are somewhere else.

The defence of Pretham 2 :: Pretham 2 is indeed a better movie than its predecessor which had too many terrible jokes, even though the final moments were nice for that one too. Pretham 2 has the advantage in almost every field including its setting and cast. The idea is also smarter here with the social media, internet, fake identity and online frauds at the centre. The messages about the possible dangers of being friends with fake ids and trusting strangers without names are all shown in this particular flick. The mystery is nicely solved here, and there is no exaggeration here with the elements of the other world – the first image of the spirit that we see is in the form of a shadow, and the creature from the other world doesn’t overdo things as the happenings would be in a usual horror movie. The thrills are strong, and there are also some nice jokes – we are left guessing with the suspense factor being very high till the end.

The claws of flaw :: Pretham 2 never really rises above most of the problems of its predecessor, as it follows too similar a path, and the spirit also follows the same pattern, as we see no attempt to deviate much. We would wonder if so many spirits are looking forward to have the mystery behind their deaths investigated. There seems to be no other plan for the people on the other side. Some jokes are just repetitive, especially the talks regarding those old Mohanlal movies. The movie could have also used more scares, as the film itself is marketed as a horror flick, and the name itself suggests the same. The movie could have surely used darkness better, and the ghostly presence itself could have done more, at least when the youngsters were alone. Pretham 2 doesn’t try to frighten people much, and that is not acceptable at a time when Hollywood is running movies like The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle, Insidious, Sinister and others.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is back with an avatar to remember, unlike Punyalan Agarbattis 2 and Aadu 2 which struggled to live up to its predecessors with all its characters. His mentalist is a rock solid character, and this time, he is better than last time too. Saniya Iyappan, with her flexible dance moves, is a joy to watch here, and has a clear improvement in acting from her previous movie Queen, which was one of the worst collection of elements deserving not to be called a movie at all. She can certainly bring variety to the Malayalam cinema, as her skills are yet to be used in the best possible ways. Durga Krishna after Vimaanam, gets one nice role to perform, and she does that well. Dain Davis and Sidhartha Siva gets to bring the elements of fun well, even though the latter gets too much of Mohanlal dialogues from those old movies, which become too repetitive. Amith Chakalakkal is very good with his character which is rather solid.

How it finishes :: Pretham 2 holds the advantage over Thattumpurath Achuthan, Ente Ummante Peru and Odiyan for this Christmas, and by being a smart horror-mystery-comedy-thriller, it is many things in one movie. With Jayasurya at the centre as one character who has a certain iconic status, and the new faces like Saniya Iyappan who has become another name for dance, Durga Krishna in her second movie, the crowd favourite Dain Davis and others, Pretham 2 makes the Pretham franchise much better than what it was in the first movie. It also leaves a few messages about the problems due to uncontrolled use of social media by teenagers, the dangers that lie behind the fake ids in Facebook, possibilities of different kinds of frauds by online groups looking for easy money etc among others. Pretham 2 makes Christmas a lot of fun, and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas. Enjoy the holidays!

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Saniya Iyappan, Durga Krishna, Dain Davis, Amith Chakalakkal, Sidhartha Siva, Sreejith Ravi, Jayaraj Warrier, Aju Varghese (cameo), Sharafudheen (cameo), Govind Padmasoorya (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Lost Village

Vampire Owl: I was looking for blue creatures in our realm. There has been none.

Vampire Bat: After orcs had chosen green and goblins also choosing the same, the popularity for blue has been decreasing.

Vampire Owl: And these werewolves always come in black.

Vampire Bat: Just like those Batman gadgets.

Vampire Owl: Even Mr. Luttappi is just red, you know.

Vampire Bat: Do you even remember having watched these Smurfs movies?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I can clearly remember that I have watched them both.

Vampire Bat: Okay, then talk about something that you remember more than the rest.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that there was anything in particular – there was the village, blue people, bad wizard with a cat…

Vampire Bat: It was the main problem. They were not at all memorable.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: In the secret Smurf Village, the Smurfs continue to live a happy life, hidden from the evil that await in the outside world. Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), their leader takes care of them as a fatherly figure, and things go on quite normally through times. Among those Smurfs who are given names according to their character or purpose are Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello) and many others, with even the strangest of names. It is only Smurfette (Demi Lovato) whom, despite being admired by all other smurfs as the only girl smurf around, seems to have no sense of purpose. As she was created by the evil remorseless wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) from a lump of clay to use as the means to catch other smurfs, now she has no meaning of life, transformed into one of them, and out of the evil ways. It keeps bothering her most of the time.

So, what happens next in the adventure? :: With Gargamel on a mission to capture the Smurfs, steal their blue essence, and become the strongest wizard in the world, Smurfette and her friends sneak out of their village. Gargamel’s pet cat Azrael (Frank Welker) and his pet vulture Monty (Dee Bradley Baker) are also on the look out for any sign of a smurf in the woods. Smurfette comes up against a blue creature hidden by leaves, which runs away into the Forbidden Forest, and leaves a hat behind. She as well as the hat is taken by Garamel, who uses it to discover the location of a new group of smurfs with his magic. She is rescued by her friends, and all of them get grounded by Papa Smurf for disobeying him. But she is determined to save these lost smurfs from the evil wizard, and with her friends, set out for Forbidden Village, no matter how forbidden it is for her people. At the same time, Gargamel, Azrael and Monty also set out in search for the new village.

And what is to follow with the blue people against a wizard and his minions? :: The smurfs are attacked by Gargamel and his team, and is presumed dead by the evil wizard, but they escape with the help of a few bunnies. It is quite the dangerous mission that they are up against, as they have no idea what dangers lie ahead in a world which has been forbidden to them for such a long time. There they come up against animals and plants which are not normal, and soon they would be on a race against Gargamel, Azrael and Monty who are also traveling on the same route. Surprised to find each other again, they race, only to have Gargamel drowning in the river. After Hefty and Smurfette support the idea of saving him, he throws the smurfs down the waterfalls instead of thanking them. But they survive, and travel on land. They are soon trapped by the blue creatures under the leaves. They are supposed to be smurfs aren’t they? If they are smurfs, they are surely in danger, right?

The defence of Smurfs: The Lost Village :: There are good visuals for this one, that is for sure, and we get to see some nice animation not just with the characters, but also with the world. There is no more the mixture of the real world and the animated world, which is also a nice thing – also, there are no humans in this one except for the big evil wizard; it is another positive thing, as the mixture can have big problems with working. This is indeed cute and sweet too, and with all the colours around, the kids are going to enjoy it without doubt, and everyone else is going to have their childish side awakened. There are occasions when you feel that this is the kind of movie which you would have loved to watch during your early childhood, but wasn’t there; we are always happy that we had those Doordarshan cartoons like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ducktales, Talespin and Tom and Jerry, but we imagine ourselves having such a treat, but childhood is long gone, a sad thing indeed.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is without doubt, predictable from the first moment itself. It is not like the same becomes a big problem in an animated feature film which is prone to the same. But you know that there have been exceptions like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out and others which have deviated from the expected path during the journey more than once. Smurfs: The Lost Village never really stands a chance against the animated movies of our times, with How to Train Your Dragon 2, Finding Dory and Kung Fu Panda 3, all being pretty cool sequels inheriting the original’s qualities. Just like its predecessors, this one has predictability written into it. The movie also has too much focus on one character whose search for her purpose gets rather repetitive. There is also the inability to capitalize on a funny side which always had the chance to be better. It even has a villain who is not even half smart as his cat, and that is not used to bring enough laughter. Better and smarter story in also not on cards.

How it finishes :: Smurfs: The Lost Village can be seen not to deviate, not inside the movie, and also not within the franchise. But it surely manages to be one of the most appropriate movies for the kids, with not much left to ponder about except for finding one’s purpose in life, and it leaves the message that being good will bring that meaning of life on this day, or at some other point – there is only the need to wait for the same. During these time when the life as well as the movies are so complicated, this kind of cuteness becomes rather necessary, and let the simplicity of this one save us from the complex evil of a world which is slowly and steadily being taken over by those who have no heart. The Smurfs franchise is becoming more interested in being the brand which has movies to add to it rather than flicks with big tales. Well, there is more than one than one way to go around with things, and cute little creatures are more than just fair for children.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Kelly Asbury
Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Jake Johnson, Mandy Patinkin, Julia Roberts, Gordon Ramsay, Tituss Burgess, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Kelly Asbury, Bret Marnell, Melissa Sturm, Frank Welker, Dee Bradley Baker

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Monkey King II

Vampire Owl: I have this name wandering in my mind somewhere.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you have known many kings and monkeys during your life-time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the most recent acquaintance being the Lich Queen with her undead minions.

Vampire Bat: What? You met the Lich Queen? It is forbidden for a vampire to meet an undead queen sorceress.

Vampire Owl: She is not that undead, you know, and she is a good host.

Vampire Bat: Whatever. That doesn’t explain how you met the Monkey King though.

Vampire Owl: Well, I was reading this classic, and the pages came alive.

Vampire Bat: And they attacked you?

Vampire Owl: No, then I realized that I was tearing the pages apart. Then I took some glue and fixed it back to its place.

Vampire Bat: The imperial librarian won’t be that happy this time. You should get a few zombie minions to cover it up.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A young Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Feng Shaofeng) is on the journey to the West, to the Thunder Monastery in India to collect some of the valuable scriptures of Buddha. But the soldiers who were meant to assist and protect him during his journey leaves him when a white tiger attacks them. Trying to protect the horse, he ends up being under attack from the tiger, only to get into a cave and save himself. As he is followed by the tiger, he sees Sun Wukong a.k.a. The Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) who was imprisoned under the Five Fingers Mountain as part of his five hundred years of atonement for the trouble which he had caused in heaven. The awakened and released monkey soon deals with the tiger, but that only begins in new life, as the Goddess Guan Yin (Kelly Chen) has instructed him to protect the monk throughout his journey.

So, what happens next? :: Wukong is not someone who likes taking orders from anyone, but he is bound to stay close to the instructions made by the goddess, as he is wearing a magical headband which can’t be removed, and will cause him pain if he acts like a bad monkey. He finds his life connected to the monk’s, and decides to finish this job as soon as possible, and get back to his usual, mischievous life. On the way, Wukong defeats two other immortals looking like monsters – Zhu Bajie (Xiaoshenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law) who joins them in the journey as atonement for their sins, as the monk gets protected from three sides. Both of the new travelers consider Wukong as their big brother, and approves of his superiority in skills. They have some interesting moments during their travel, and reaches Yun Hai Xi Kingdom, which is ruled by a king (Fei Xiang) and his people living in fear.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: The kingdom is terrorized by the White Bone Demon (Gong Li), a powerful demoness who is known to take away children from everywhere, and she is supposed to devour them to keep herself in this world. As the demoness learns about the arrival of the young monk, she decides to eat him, and thus get more powerful, without no reincarnation, being an eternally unstoppable demon who could challenge even heaven and hell. She, along with her three demoness minions (Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi and Miya Muqi) get the four to their house in the middle of the forest, where they offer all of them a place to rest. She tells them the story of her past as a young woman, which had Sanzang in tears. The two monsters fall into the seductive trap of the demonesses posing as beautiful girls, and Wukong seems to have some problem with his eyes – so, will the demoness and her minions be successful in using the young monk to expand their evil? Or will the Monkey King be able to save him?

The defence of The Monkey King 2 :: This movie is visually excellent with its creatures, surroundings and magic having our attention, and has those action sequences which will immediately ask for your attention. There are also the messages about forgiveness, and the reflection of the fact that humans are so capable of being more evil than the demons every time. There is also some humour present here, and the comic relief is very much useful in this movie. It actually combines nicely with the adventure as well as the spiritual side, making this package whole. Everything is so simple in this movie, and this simplicity in fantasy is something that we can cherish, and the same makes sure that this movie is for everyone – kids are certainly going to love this one as much as any animated movie. Even though there are not that many reviews of this movie in English, the ratings received, including those in Rotten Tomatoes make nice example of how well this has worked.

The claws of flaw :: Maybe, a more serious version of the classic might have been expected by many, and also this one happens to be a sequel rather than the original story, which could have also kept some people from watching this particular flick. There is also more needed of action from everyone other than Monkey King whose action scenes never cease being delightful – the fans from everywhere will always look for more from him, as I had wondered more about this particular character than anyone else. Also, despite having a very strong female villain there with minions, her manipulation or the fighting skills get quite less attention than we would have expected to witness. Looking silly at times is not something that one would expect from this movie, as there is enough depth all the time, as long as you have a classic in your hands, and got hope of everyone who has read or has read about the work expecting a lot. Also, despite the movie being a visual treat, there are moments when the CGI looks too much and strange.

How it finishes :: Those who have read the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, are sure to love this movie adaptation of the tale – there are so many version of the same, and many translations. This tale is actually something that needs to be read by everyone, and this movie will help in attaining that for sure. As more people get to read Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, adding the other three, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin to their list of books to read, we can safely say that this visual extravaganza of an action movie is successful in doing the right thing for literature. Even if you haven’t watched this movie’s predecessor, or never known about the novel, it is still okay to watch this movie – this one is a rather stand-alone work, and things really can’t get any simpler than this as far as fantasy movies are concerned. Then, the messages are also straight-forward with nothing there to bring a message out of a message. Also note that the actor who played the antagonist in the previous movie plays the protagonist here.

PS: For more on the movie of the week here, read on – Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Release date: 6th February 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Fei Xiang, Kelly Chen, Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi, Miya Muqi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Doctor Strange

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What is the movie about? :: In the city of Kathmandu in Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his small group of followers sneaks into the library of the place known as Kamar-Taj and kills its librarian. There they steal a magic ritual from the forbidden texts of the sorcerer who is known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). This ancient sorcerer who has lived for centuries and has taught all these sorcerers including Kaecilius, won’t give up pursuit though, and still the group manages to evade her and escape through a portal right in the middle of the city. The Ancient One is forced to retreat to Kamar-Taj and prepare to defend her place as well as appoint new librarian and better guardians for the place, as she realises that something terribly evil is ready to be unleashed on her world, considering the powerfull spell that those pages possess.

So, what happens next? :: Meanwhile, in the city of New York, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a famous but arrogant neurosurgeon is spending his life in luxury and also in an attempt to gain more and more fame with new discoveries. He considers the rest of the doctors as people below him, and that includes his own friend and former lover Doctor Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). One day, his car meets with an accident, and he loses the use of his hands. Even though Christine asks him to move on with his life as there are so many other things that he could do, he is adamant that there should be ways in science through which he could find a cure that could get him back on track as a neurosurgeon. He dedicates his time and spends most of his money in an attempt to do the same, and feels that he could have done better with his hands if he was operating himself.

So, what all follows in his life? :: Stephen has exhausted almost all his resources and is about to lose faith on everything when he comes across a man who is able to walk again after a terrible accident affecting his spine – this person was considered incurable by Stephen himself, and when asking about how this miracle happened, he is lead to Kamar-Taj. He travels to Kathmandu as the final resort, having no money or reputation left. There, he is attacked by thieves, but is saved by a socerer called Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who was trained by the Ancient One too. As he reaches Kamar-Taj and meets the Ancient One over a cup of tea, he remains a non-believer who holds on to his beliefs in science. But as the Ancient One brings a display of her powers, he begs them to take him in, and she finally does.

Towards Doctor Strange, the sorcerer :: Without the strength of his hands, it seems difficult for him to cast the spells in the beginning, but he turns out to be a quick learner soon. Even as the Ancient One finds the same qualities in him that she had seen in Kaecilius, she feels that he can achieve much more, and Karl Mordo feels that he will be instrumental when their new enemy attacks them. It is said that the Earth is protected from creatures of other dimensions by the Sanctums, the three buildings which are found in New York, London, and Hong Kong. It is up-to the sorcerers to defend these sanctums as if their lives depended on them. Getting more and more interested in the ancient magic, Stephen attempts to go deeper, but Mordo and the new librarian Wong (Benedict Wong) warns him against disrupting the laws of nature, as there will be consequences. As he gets through his training, evil visits the sanctums, and the question remains if Doctor Strange can be the man to change the future of the world, or will he be just a man called Stephen?

The defence of Doctor Strange :: The best thing about this movie is that it is amazingly good-looking. As a movie which is based on ancient magic, Doctor Strange has used all the visual possibilities of this situation, which is easily visible as sorcerers battle through more than one world. Benedict Cumberbatch becomes the perfect cast for the same, and we see that as Iron Man was once Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Strange was also Sherlock, thus linking all of them together as part of a spectacle. With the best use of special effects and action sequences, this Marvel movie also has a fantastic supporting cast, and a good story-line to go with the same. It is also a message about finding oneself when facing a personal tragedy, and reminds us that the answer is not in science for most of the time, as humanity is more than that – it is not the conventional medicine that works the best, and it is something well-known among the people who have the ability to think and understand differently.

The claws of flaw :: There was still the need for the better use of some of the characters too, as someone like Mads Mikkelsen isn’t allowed to unleash himself as the man of terror, and instead a creature who wishes to bring the end of the world once again comes to the scene – one has to wonder for how long the world will be in such terror which seems to be too similar to each other; all these Marvel and DC superheroes have been saving the world since the beginning of time, and still it is not saved. Yes, a lot of destruction also begin to happen here, and it goes to boost the visual effects though. Another thing is that Rachel McAdams’ role is restricted to saving people, for it is what she keeps on doing in this one. There is also the question of how the wizards will come in with the superheroes, and how both of these groups come in both the teams – can this world of too many superheroes be in control with this new addition which expands the whole thing so much? We can only wait and see.

How it finishes :: Doctor Strange is more like an experience with a superhero who is also a wizard, a sorcerer or a magician, whichever title you would like to provide for the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It is a movie with a superhero as well as a flick with a lot of magic – it works both ways, and along with the same, it provides us with a new superhero, this one based on magic like Mandrake the Magician whom we have been reading in those Malayalam newspapers during our childhood, and watching as part of that animated series, Defenders of the Earth with The Phantom and the others. With no Lothar, and providing us with the visual treat, Doctor Strange does remind us of those times during the childhood, and the fact remains that none of us really knew this particular magician during those time – it was all about Mandrake as far as magic was concerned. Now, there is a lot of them with movies like The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. And the latest for full superhero fun is indeed Wonder Woman.

Release date: 4th November 2016
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Linda Louise Duan, Mark Anthony Brighton, Topo Wresniwiro, Chris Hemsworth (cameo), Stan Lee (cameo)

doctorstrange

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5

Vampire Owl: I have some problems with these dead men.

Vampire Bat: I am pretty sure that you don’t even know them.

Vampire Owl: Maybe, but I don’t understand why they come to the conclusion that dead men tell no tales.

Vampire Bat: It is quite a common saying in the human world, as I have heard.

Vampire Owl: But we are dead, and we tell stories.

Vampire Bat: We are the undead. It is a different case. Even in the movie, the undead exist.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that they can tell a few tales too.

Vampire Bat: Do you prefer the subtitle to be Salazar’s Revenge?

Vampire Owl: Revenge is so common, so dull. It is not that sweet as it used to be. I would prefer to wait and achieve greatness, which would be my revenge, which is not really the direct revenge.

Vampire Bat: Let them keep the dead men and their tales then.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and french fries].

What is the movie about? :: Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) works on a warship belonging to the Royal British Navy which has been after the pirates who have been plaguing the ocean around the Americas. It is an eventful journey, with pirates being around now and then. During one of such journeys, when they are chasing a pirate ship, they go right into the Devil’s Triangle, known more to the modern world as the Bermuda Triangle. Henry tries to prevent the same, but rising against the captain’s order makes his talks and action something resembling mutiny, and he is imprisoned in a cage. But it is not the pirate ship that they found inside, but something resembling a wrecked ship, and the undead in the form of sailors led by a man known as Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) attacks them, and kills everyone except Henry who is asked to deliver a message to Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), about death coming after him.

So, what happens next? :: Meanwhile, Jack is trying to rob a newly opened bank with his pirate gang, but in the end, they lose all the money, and he is left behind in the process. Henry who survives the attack of the undead pirates after being left behind by Salazar, is captured by the British, and branding him as a coward and a traitor, they plan to execute him. It is during that time that he comes across a young woman named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) who was sentenced to death for witchcraft, but had escaped at the same time when Jack was going through his robbery. She is also captured while trying to contact Henry, but he escapes when the attention is on her. The curious Carina also intends to go to find the Trident of Poseidon which Henry has been looking for, as it is supposed to have the power to free his father from the curse. Jack, who is left with nothing in the sea, also gets caught after drinking too much. The British decides to execute the witch and the pirate at the same location, at the same time, by hanging and by the guillotine.

And, what is to follow next in the seas? :: With the help of Jack’s former crew, Henry manages to help both Jack and Carina escape, and they get back to the sea in search of the trident on Jack’s small ship, Dying Gull. Carina has the map that would lead them to the same, which only she can read with her skills. With Salazar and his undead crew managing to escape from their dark captivity, and the undead captain assigning the grand pirate Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) with the duty of finding Jack after some threatening, Jack and his new friends have more than one trident to look out for. Salazar’s main objective is to kill Jack, but he wouldn’t hesitate to kill or destroy anyone or anything that he finds on his way, and with the Royal Navy as well as Barbossa being no match to him and his army of undead, how would Jack, Carina and Henry manage to escape from the clutches of the evil which is ready to be unleashed all around the waters?

The defence of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales :: There is entertainment in store in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, that is for sure, and we have the same with the support of some nice visuals, and the 3D is pretty much okay. The undead sailors and sharks are all nice, and the locations contribute to the same so well. The comic side is at its best with the scenes of execution of two protagonists, a big bank robbery scene and the jokes regarding the job description of the heroine – other than that, there are a few working here and there, fine enough to keep the ship floating. Johnny Depp still has a lot of the sparrow in him with nothing much changing about the character we have loved for so long, and Kaya Scodelario is a lot welcome addition to the same, coming right out of The Maze Runner and its sequel, The Scorch Trials. Javier Bardem and Brenton Thwaites also becomes fine additions to this adventure, and they all contribute to making this movie good, even though it is still the least interesting movie among all the five flicks that make this franchise.

The claws of flaw :: The fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise might have surely expected something bigger with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and it would leave them thinking why this one hasn’t evolved even after such a long gap with no pirates in the seas. There could have been more magnificence with the horror here, and something even bigger to end the movie with. The forced cameos bring no surprise and it can be said all the time. We wanted more of everything considering how long it took to come up with this sequel. Here is even Jack Sparrow not becoming the one whom we had waited for so long – the comic side is good, but we end up thinking if the character itself was needed, or some other pirate could have been enough. A stronger tale could have also helped, because this one seems to be a story written just to bring this movie to light, and get more money at the box-office in the name of the brand – the effect of having the pirates is coming down, and the makers have to be careful, for this is not even an animated movie like the Ice Age movie series.

How it finishes :: Even with some fun in store, one has to think that Disney is using the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise too much in the same way, trying to make more and more money out of the same. It has been fourteen long years since Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl released, and it has been six years since the last movie of the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides released – there are two sides to the same, for most people should have forgotten how things have been going on in this movie, and there is also a lot of people who have wished to see something or anything related to the pirates on the big screen. If more of the same thing is needed to be repeated, this is the movie that you should go for, as nothing new or special makes its way into this movie. You can watch this one to have more of pirates, but you can’t expect it to bring anything new – for experimentation seems to have left this franchise with ease, and being more creative is no longer the visible option for the makers.

Release date: 26th May 2017
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg
Starring: Johnny Depp, Kaya Scodelario, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kevin McNally, Geoffrey Rush, Martin Klebba, Orlando Bloom (cameo), Keira Knightley (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Warcraft

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Vampire Owl: An orc story? How can you even think about it? This is a no-orc zone around here.

Vampire Bat: It is a humans against orcs tale.

Vampire Owl: Whatever it is, I just can’t stand these orcs. They don’t even smell good.

Vampire Bat: Why do you try to smell them? It is totally unnecessary.

Vampire Owl: It is not intentional. We just come across one or two of them at the Goblin Market all the time.

Vampire Bat: Why do you go to the Goblin Market?

Vampire Owl: What? I just love their special fruit juice.

Vampire Bat: Dude, they are not healthy drinks. You should just stick to the natural vampire drinks.

Vampire Owl: Still healthier than those human-made things like Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Vampire Bat: Well, I can agree to that.

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

Flashback to the game :: As all of you would know by now, Warcraft is an adaptation of the game of the same name, just as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Hitman, Max Payne, Need For Speed, Alone in the Dark and Prince of Persia had been, among the others. But what Warcraft has achieved here, is that it has gone on to become the highest grossing video game adaptation of all-time, thus creating a fine record, despite what the critics have been saying. We know that the critics are never fond of a movie made from a video game, as they are all sitting there waiting to blame the attempt. But Warcraft has a longer history for me than any other game, as Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness is the first real-time strategy (non-turn based) or any strategy game that I had ever played, thus making way for more strategy games getting into my head, from Age of Empires to Caesar, Age of Wonders, Age of Mythology, Disciples and Civilization. Therefore Warcraft has a special place in my mind, as for many others.

What was the game about? :: The game had orcs entering this dimension through a portal, and after the initial raids, were slowly making their way more and more into the human lands. The first game, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, even though it might look too simple for the gamers of this age, had a firm base for the battles established, which Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness nicely used to its advantage with new additions. Winning a good number of awards during the year of its release, the second game was nothing less than top quality fun. In the game, even though orcs have the superior strength and keeps on gaining brutal victories, there are interesting units on both sides. Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos which comes much later introduces two new races, the Night Elves and the and Undead. It was followed by the expansion, The Frozen Throne. Then there was World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and with a number of expansions, the saga continues – so can the movie live up-to that?

What is the movie about? :: The orcs are in a battle for existence as their world is almost near extinction – they look forward to finding new lands for their people, as Gul’dan (Daniel Wu), a powerful orc warlock opens a portal to the human world, and invites all tribes of orcs to join forces for one purpose, to claim new lands for themselves. Durotan (Toby Kebbell), the chief of the Frostwolf Clan is a man who believes in honour and fairness, and he also joins the first group of orcs who come through the portal as he is looking for a better place for his family to thrive. With the brutal raids from orcs destroying villages, Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer), a mage finds the evil magic of fel in the bodies of the dead, and warns the knight Sir Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel). King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper) chooses to call for the Guardian, Medivh (Ben Foster) with whose help, they capture Garona Halforcen (Paula Patton), a half-orc. But things are more than just about a battle between the two races.

The defence of Warcraft :: There is one thing about Warcraft that everyone should agree on – it is an amazingly good-looking movie; with visuals which will make one feel the fantasy world with all its beauty. There are shots from the top which often reminds one of the game itself, not just the one this is inspired from, but also about many other strategy fantasy games. The visual effects make sure that the magic combined with swordfights create even better impact. Among the characters, it is the half-orc played by Paula Patton that steals the show. The movie’s message is sacrifice throughout its run, as both the races got the respective leaders striving to make sure that it gets better for their own people. Even in an effort to survive, there is no loss of honour on the good side, and there is no missing pieces of evil on the other side, the dark magic that comes in between the two races. Fans have waited for this movie so long, and so they should like it without doubt.

The claws of flaw :: There are places where Warcraft could have been better and less predictable. It could have had more races in the battle scenes instead of just being present there. The orc characters are actually better than the humans too, winning our respect, while the humans trail – it is surprising that the orcs decide not to finish off the human knight, but they allowed their own cheftain to be killed earlier; there is something strange in the working in totality. The two main human characters, the guardian and the commander knight become flaws of the movie as they keep losing strength all the time. Well, it is the time for orcs to have some fun – the hobbits had so much of the same, and the undead have been enjoying too much; let the orcs get their due too. There are times when one wonder if the movie could have used more of the games, and there will be the question if the special effects were overused.

How it finishes :: There can be many claims against Warcraft, but the truth is that it manages to be better than many other movies which doesn’t have the backup of a video game – just because this is based on a popular game, this has been given too much negative reviews. But Warcraft is better than all that, and along with being the highest grossing video game adaptation of all-time, it also has enough in it to gain the attention of those who are not prejudiced. With the chance for a sequel open, we can be sure that this can expand into a fine franchise, as long as the sceptics won’t bother us with more of the prejudice saying that this is from a video game and so it can’t be good. This one has almost all that one needs in an entertaining movie without going through the path of some dumb fun. Therefore, it needs to be shown some appreciation that it deserves.

Release date: 10th June 2016
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin, Callum Keith Rennie, Burkely Duffield, Ryan Robbins, Dean Redman, Terry Notary, Michael Adamthwaite, Glenn Close

warcraft

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Now You See Me 2

nowyouseeme2

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the first movie? I loved it.

Vampire Bat: Yes, remember that I recommended it to you when you were practising black magic.

Vampire Owl: It was something like grey magic. Don’t overdo it.

Vampire Bat: There is no grey magic. It was just neutral dwarf magic.

Vampire Owl: Still, I did better than these people. I had magical flexibility of the immortal kind.

Vampire Bat: I loved the first movie. It was too good.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it was something which had a lot to keep us interested in the journey through the world of magic.

Vampire Bat: There is also a third movie coming up.

Vampire Owl: Now you believe me when I say that magic never dies.

Vampire Bat: I am not sure about that, but this franchise is certain to live long.

[Gets three cups of tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: About an year after outsmarting the FBI and all who were after them, the Four Horsemen or what remains of them – J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are hiding and preparing for a big event which is to come, but they don’t know what awaits them. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) had left the Horsemen and they are left with three, which gets them the fourth member in the form of Lula (Lizzy Caplan), making the team complete again. Tired of waiting for their next big event, Daniel does try to contact the Eye by himself, and gets the reply that there is something huge coming. The FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) finally assigns them a new mission, which is about exposing the greedy businessman Owen Case (Ben Lamb) who is stealing private data from people with his new software.

So, what happens next? :: The team of four successfully infiltrate the grand programme organised by Owen, and are so close to getting to their objective, but are interrupted by an unknown person who reveals to the crowd that Jack who was thought to be dead is actually alive, and Dylan is actually a part of the Horsemen and has been fooling the FBI right from the beginning itself. This forces Dylan to escape, and the Horsemen who enters their escape tube resurfaces at Macau and are welcomed by Chase McKinney (once again played by Woody Harrelson), Merritt’s twin brother who has the reputation of making his brother’s life a living hell. There they meet Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who used to Owen’s business partner who who had been deprived of his company and had faked his death after Owen gained full control of everything he had worked for. For the same, he seeks revenge, and wishes to steal from Owen a chip which could decrypt anything in the world.

The defence of Now You See Me 2 :: Some movies will stay with you for long with the magic inside them, and the first movie was like that, with magic within magic, and this one kind of inherits that quality, but only upto an extent. There is entertainment guaranteed, and there are those twists as there is more to Walter who had made the Horsemen steal the chip with vengeance around the corner – there is also more than what meets the eye for the character Thaddeus Bradley too. They are the kind of twists you hadn’t expected that you would see in a second movie; well you never really expected a sequel and so that is another twist. When you feel that this is not going as you had expected, there is that one final twist that gets things together to end the movie well. In the end, one will wonder if it is the superior quality of the first movie that has made this one feel not that awesome – but this is still good in its own style anyway.

The claws of flaw :: A comparison with the first movie will make this one feel less significant as a movie with magic, as the original Now You See Me was the innovator, and it had more strength in the delightful surprises coming from within, instead of twisting things like this sequel does at times. This might also be a little too complicated for many, while not bringing enough of those magical effects. The magic used to be more beautiful, and without doubt, more interesting earlier – but this one often pretends that it doesn’t know the strengths of that first movie which was appreciated by so many people. There are times when we feel that this movie was made more to capitalize on the success of the first movie, and nothing else. Even then, this movie somehow manages to be too long. This one could have used better ideas and more inspiration which would have made Now You See Me 2 rise above its predecessor – but it doesn’t come close.

Performers of the soul :: We once again have the horsemen as entertaining performers here, and the movie depends a lot on them to bring the fun and style to the screen. Jesse Eisenberg leads the way as expected, but one is sure to feel that his character was better in the first movie. Mark Ruffalo remains solid, even when his character goes on to make some of the stranger decisions. Woody Harrelson’s second role was kind of unnecessary, but he is right there with the main role. Dave Franco does the same as he did in the first movie, while Lizzy Caplan becomes a good addition with her best scene being the introduction itself, but everyone is sure to miss Isla Fisher who was such an integral part of the first movie – her replacement here also has her moments, which you are sure to notice. Daniel Radcliffe brings some difference as the villain, but he is not that interesting an antagonist throughout the movie as you go through. Morgan Freeman’s extension of secrets made sure that he had our attention with the character doing much more than we thought.

How it finishes :: You are not going regret watching Now You See Me 2, and if you haven’t watched the first movie, you are only going to love this one a lot more. This one also leaves us asking for more from a sequel which seems all set to arrive. The universe of Now You See Me has been expanded further, and we are more certain to see that there is a lot more to come, especially regarding “The Eye”. There is never enough of magic in our lives, right? The need for an answer to this question is not really there, as we know how much these two movies grossed. So lets see if the third movie becomes a better one that rises to the occasion nicely enough to make this trilogy an unforgettable one, or if it fails to come anywhere close, and thus leaving us with nothing to finish this franchise which had all the potential in the world. We shall hope, and wait for the magic; until then, this one will prove good enough.

Release date: 10th June 2016
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Lizzy Caplan, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Jay Chou, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, David Warshofsky, Richard Laing, Zach Gerard, Zoey Callandria Jones, Alberto Calvet Gonzalez

nowyouseeme2

@ 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

thehuntsman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cinderella

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Vampire Owl :: You know that I can’t watch Cinderella.

Vampire Bat :: What? From where did you find a reason this time?

Vampire Owl :: It is one of those Happily Ever After stories. I don’t believe in that. And vampire owls don’t read fairy tales.

Vampire Bat :: But it has enough changes making the movie different.

Vampire Owl :: I have known changes, like in Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, Maleficent and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Vampire Bat :: No, not like them. There is no darker interpretation for this one, and there are no monsters or black magic.

Vampire Owl :: I think you should have watched Focus instead of this one. Without the dark side, this is like children’s movie.

Vampire Bat :: No, the story has evolved; it is made better without losing the core.

Vampire Owl :: I have absolutely no idea what you meant by that.

Vampire Bat :: I say that you read my review and see if you still want to skip this movie.

[Leaves for the tea shop].

What is it about? :: The great fairy-tale gets another treatment as things change for Ella (Lily James) with the death of her mother and everything gets a lot worse with her father’s second marriage which is followed by his death. The new step-mother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), who comes to reside with them along with the two daughters of her own, Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) turns out to be very unlike someone they were expecting as a mother figure. The two sisters were not any better either, as they detested her and the new house; even their new cat Lucifer proves to be an enemy for Ella’s rat friends. As the attitude of the new mother gets worse everyday, Ella who is now called Cinderella due to her life close to the cinders, our protagonist only has the faith in magic, as well as her belief in courage and kindness to bring her the twist to her tale.

The defence of Cinderella :: Among the fairy-tales, Cinderella is surely not the easy one to adapt and come up successful because the idea of a Prince Charming and the thoughts about the evil step-mother won’t sell that easily these days for the adults, and it is too simple a story and not something that can have too many additions without affecting the essence. This is a season when the new age evil want to shoot down Prince Charming because he is a good person; some people really can’t stand extra goodness because it is not in them. During such a season, this movie manages to rise and fly high, for which a lot of applause is deserved. With an amazing world already made with splendour, what you should keep in mind is that this is still a fairy-tale, and the soul goes directly to the original story. You have to keep that in mind, and keep a part of your mind for believing in magic.

Positives and Negatives :: Unless you have had a highly uninteresting and ridiculous childhood, you are going to love this movie. Yes, Cinderella is also nostalgia, and you have to repsect your own past without which you are nothing – remember and admire those tales which shaped your early lives. It is a fairy tale and if you want Cinderella to be too much like a modern age character, go and stick to your limited list of movies – but let me tell you; this is the best portrayal of Cinderella ever. Yes, the fairy godmother needed more screen-time and polishing, and there could have been a little more of interactions between Cinderella, sisters and the step-mother added. But then you see the costumes, especially that of Cinderella going for her moment with the prince – it is stunning, and how good Lilly James looks in the same makes one wonder if Cinderella is indeed real.

Performers of the soul :: Lily James is stunning as Cinderella, and it is like she beautifully carves herself into the character. There is the scene when she is magically dressed in that stunningly beautiful blue dress, and you need to think of nobody else as the titular character. Then there is her again in another blue dress, this time a normal one by the end – here she is the happy young girl and she looks amazing there. She completely takes over all those emotional moments, whether it is of sadness, joy, hopelessness, love or sympathy, and it is a blessing for the audience to see her as Cinderella on the big screen. Then there is Cate Blanchett with a believable step-mother role which she does to perfection, and the two sisters are also very good here. Richard Madden is a fine Prince Charming and Helena Bonham Carter needed to be there for more, but is fine when she is there, and the narration is interesting.

Soul exploration :: Selflessness, sympathy, forgiveness and simplicity which Cinderella displays in this movie are something rarely seen in this world. The tale once again tells the story of the protagonist who is mistreated, rising above the limitations. No, this is not a story of one girl, but of a large number of men and women who are mistreated because of any reason. Prince Charming is just a symbol of glory in attainment; it could have been anybody else, like Princess Beautiful or any other thing which can be personified into something else. But the fact remains that the movie brings that idea to us only by polishing this movie and keeping the soul of this fairy tale alive. It could have gone darker like in Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, Maleficent and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, but chooses to keep the soul the same, and still make that great impact. And yes, do believe in some good magic.

How it finishes :: Along with all those things for which you admire Disney, add this one to that list. There was also a short animation movie called Frozen Fever which worked like a little sequel to Frozen – it was shown before this movie, and there were no usual trailers. As it comes with Cinderella, Anna and Elsa makes things perfect with the birthday pary of the former. “Making Today a Perfect Day” is not “Let it Go”, but it is still so much fun with out favourite characters right there on the screen. Disney never ceases to bring more and more magic to us, right? This was such a nice pleasant surprise for the audience and everyone seemed to love it. You can add Cinderella to your list of best Disney movies without much thinking twice about it. The fact that it still stays at the theatres even after two big Malayalam movies released, points to the truth that it is special. Courage and kindness – take these two things home from Cinderella.

Release date: 20th March 2015 (India); 13th March 2015 (US)
Running time: 113 minutes
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgård, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Sophie McShera, Hayley Atwell, Helena Bonham Carter

cinderella

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.