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)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Arrival

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Vampire Owl: We are all awaiting their grand arrival, sometimes without even closing our eyes.

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand. Who exactly are you talking about? There are no names on this guest book for quite some time. If this is an unofficial meeting coming up, you will still have to inform Uncle Dracula through the telepathic connection.

Vampire Owl: The ones who shall not be named, those whom nobody shall dare to name.

Vampire Bat: If you can’t name then, I won’t be able to wait for them. It makes no sense at all.

Vampire Owl: It is because you are a man without faith. It makes you spiritually poor.

Vampire Bat: I have more faith than you and your brainless zombie minions combined.

Vampire Owl: Well, the beautifully carved tombstones at my favourite cemetery has better faith.

Vampire Bat: This does make me wonder what you mean by the words “faith” and “arrival”.

Vampire Owl: Maybe, you can take some lessons from this movie.

Vampire Bat: Movies with messages and lessons are the best. Let us see how this one goes.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with special samosas].

What is the movie about? :: A linguist, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is teaching at the university when she hears an alarm. Twelve alien spacecrafts have landed on Earth, at Maracay in Venezuela, Montana in the United States, Kujalleq in Greenland, Devon in the United Kingdom, Kenema in Sierra Leone, Khartoum in Sudan, Punjab in Pakistan, Siberia in Russia, Hokkaido in Japan, Shanghai in China, and also in the Black Sea and the Indian Ocean. The United States Army Colonel G.T. Weber (Forest Whitaker) contacts Louise to help the nation and the planet Earth as a whole by joining a team which includes people specialised in different fields including a theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). The idea is to understand the reason behind the arrival of the aliens.

So, what happens next? :: At a military camp in Montana near one of the spaceships, the military look forward to knowing if the aliens are really hostile, or are they just trying to make peace with the humans. This can only be done by entering the spaceship at a certain point of time, coming face to face with the creatures. The aliens are nicknamed by the group as “heptapods” due to having seven legs, and the team starts making contact with them. The language of the aliens is something which corresponds to nothing else, as they write some strange circular symbols on the glass which separated them and the humans. Louise puts in a big effort to understand what these symbols mean by connecting them to the basic vocabulary.

What follows the arrival :: Louise also seems to have visions of her daughter at the same time, and it seems to connect with her process of knowing the new language. The nations and their leaders become restless as time passes, and all the spacecrafts remain at the same place without moving an inch. With the curiosity at its peak, the answer from the aliens on what they want seems to be “offer weapon” which alerts all countries. There is the fear of an upcoming threat from the aliens with some new advanced weapons, and some nations even mobilise their military as if to defend against a potential attack. China takes it one step further, as it gets ready to attack the aliens from its territory, and asks other world leaders to do the same. But Louise is convinced that there is something more to this alien arrival – what can it be? Can she stop a war?

The defence of Arrival :: We might have seen many alien invasion movies, but Arrival is the flick that successfully thinks differently with the basic idea. It is science fiction, and it has creatures from other planet, but it so close to life; it is something that not many movies of the same genre will find difficult to achieve. There is also a lot of beauty on screen, and the performances that support the whole thing. The feeling of a possible disaster runs throughout the movie, but there seems to be not more than one explosion in the whole movie. Amy Adams remains the big strong point of the movie, and along with Nocturnal Animals, this is another movie in which she scores amazingly high. Between Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League, she has got two perfect movies in there. Jeremy Renner and the visuals nicely compliment the same.

The claws of flaw :: A lot of people are certain to find Arrival to be kind of slow for their liking. There are too many things happening in this movie, and a lot of them are emotional, plus there is almost no big action sequence or destruction which people expect from these type of movies. Don’t judge this movie by the positive or negative opinions though, as Arrival is a kind of personal experience which needs the movie to be watched. It is also a little bit too philosophical – even though it is not that bad, that feeling is not there throughout the flick. A quicker pace, and a more twisted revealing of the surprise would have helped better too, but as this is based on a short story, it is up-to those who have read the tale to make a better analysis inside. The movie could have also been darker in its theme along with speeding up things. I am also sure that people would have expected more considering how the first half was going.

How it finishes :: Based on a science fiction short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang which had won the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella and the 1999 Sturgeon Award, Arrival might be the alien movie and the science fiction flick which you might have been waiting for, with a desire to concentrate less on action. It has won eight OScar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards as we look at them – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. Well, if these are not reasons enough to make you watch this movie, one has to wonder what else would have. I would wish for a nomination for Amy Adams for the Best Actress too, with this one and Nocturnal Animals too, but we can’t get them all, can we?

Release date: 11th November 2016
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma, Mark O’Brien

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Men in Black III

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What is MiB3? :: It is the third movie in the Men in Black series which comes as quite a surprise as the first movie released in 1997 and the second in 2002; now with fifteen years gone after the first movie and ten years passed after the second, one would easily think that the series based on Lowell Cunningham’s The Men in Black comic book series might have been done and can return only as a reboot or a perfect remake. But what happened in 2012 was indeed surprising as the alien-dealing protectors of the Earth has returned once again – five years between the first two movies, and ten between the second and the third, and Mathematics doesn’t favour a fourth, but I am not the one who would believe in numbers. One thing about which we can be sure as long as this series is considered, and it is that the movie was a hit even before it was released – I would have been surprised otherwise, and the men dressed in black has scope for even more sequels.

The Setting :: Men in Black (M.I.B) is a top-secret non-government agency that deals with extraterrestrial alien invasions, connections and refugees. It keeps the details of all the aliens who come to Earth and helps those who wishes to make a living on the planet, and at the same time fights any possible alien invasions or other kind of threats to the planet (May be they know about Superman’s presence too). The agency operates from an underground base of operations about which not even any of the world governments or spies are aware of. MIB agents use certain kind of devices called neuralyzers to wipe out the memories of the witnesses who have seen or felt any kind of alien presence, and thus keep their secret alive and away from being noticed. Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) are the top operatives for this organization and our protagonists once again, with another adventure which comes from outside Earth.

What is it about? :: Boris the Animal, the last of the alien species called Boglodites which consumed all planets in their path, escapes from a prison in moon. He is seeking vengeance on Agent K, who had shot and separated his left arm and imprisoned him in the year 1969. It is seen that one day, K just vanishes and there is no clue about him – it is as if only J remembers that he existed. He finds out that J died in 1969 and Boris the Animal as well as the whole species of Boglodites remain free and ready attack Earth. As it was K who came up with a shield to safeguard Earth and annihilated the Boglodites, it is found out tht Boris went back in time to murder K and thus make sure that he kept his left arm as well as his freedom, along with his race with all the power. Now J has to travel back in time at a time when time-travel is illegal and thus risky, and stop the current age Boris from uniting with the Boris of 1969 and killing K as well as saving Earth from the invasion.

The defence of MiB3 :: Well, this third movie of the series is almost as good as its predecessors, just trailing by may be a few points. It has a lot of fun, and works right as an action comedy. There are also the good special effects an nice CGI, even as there is nothing spectacular, nor there is the need for much. It is one of the best alien comedies too, and as a movie which doesn’t take itself seriously, it scores correctly. It also has a good number of aliens in store, not that you haven’t seen them already, but for those who might have not, and also for those who might have forgotten these two gentlemen in black, there was that “setting” section. Its combination of science fiction with comedy and the introduction of time travel makes it a fine combination of things. There are also those gadgets which looks interesting even if they belong to 1969 which is more of our 2069 in one way or the other. Like it, because even Batman comes only in black, or as they say in that Lego Trailer, very very dark grey.

The claws of flaw :: There is usually a curse associated with the third movie of the series, as they might not be the best of the franchise – I expect such things to happen in case of another sequel to Taken, and it has already happened with Blade 3, Alien 3, Species 3, Jaws 3 and a lot of other movies which you might recollect with a few seconds of thinking. Don’t think like that, for this one survives. But after waiting this long, does this get any better? The answer would be no. And does this offer anything new other than time-travel added? Once again a big no. Couldn’t they have come up with something other than time-travel for this third movie? I did think about it with no answers. There is no new addition or interesting stuff to suit the age, and there are moments when one wonders which direction this is going. Add Alice Eve’s hairstyle to an alien world – thats shocking indeed. The characters of Boris and Griffin were a little less interesting compared to the potential they had.

Performers of the Soul :: Will Smith has another one in his pocket, and a lot of us remember him as Agent J. He goes through the movie with ease, just like the previous movies of the series. Tommy Lee Jones is fine with the time when he is there, as his younger version is played by Josh Brolin who perfects the character. So, there are obviously three of them this time, and joining them is the present version of Agent O (Emma Thompson) and the lady’s 1969 version played by Alice Eve whose hairstyle shocks us to that extent that we wonder if she is actually an alien. But they are both good at what they have been doing in the movie, especially our older version. Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal is good, but not that awesome a villain as one was expecting. Michael Stuhlbarg’s Griffin add more funny dimensions, but there was scope for more with that character. There is also that twist in the end in which all the cast do a wonderful job.

How it finishes :: Men in Black 3 tries to extend the range of the series, and is successful in it. But with the lack of innovation and repetitive stuff, one has to wonder how far the franchise can stay alive. There is always the Will Smith factor to save it though. He doesn’t seem to age much, and he has the energy in him to bring more out of Agent J. May be one of the later movies in the series can come up with our favourite moment in an alien movie history, and as Griffin says, “unless this is the one where…” – as long as there is scope for aliens, there is hope. This one had no particular aim or reason for existing in an year in which The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises were always supposed to rule and become the movies of the year, along with a Hobbit and a Bond dropping in. It does finish tenth in the list of highest grossing movies of the year, but I would rather be surprised that it grossed more than the movies like Prometheus, Dredd and John Carter by a big margin. For now, it is yes for Men in Black 4.

Release date: 25th May 2012
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Hader, David Rasche, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.