Allegiant

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Vampire Owl :: We haven’t really managed to build our own dystopia yet.

Vampire Bat :: But why are you looking for a dystopia when it could be an utopia?

Vampire Owl :: Dystopia is the more stylish thing. Utopia is not something that much interesting for our kind.

Vampire Bat :: It is more due to your choice of movies.

Vampire Owl :: I have been choosing the right movies. You know, dystopia is the dream of every known vampire.

Vampire Bat :: That only proves that you know just a few vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I know more than you think I know. It is why I am the one true Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: Can you not think about the dystopia and watch this movie?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, just like I did for The Hunger Games. But a part of my mind is fixed on dystopia.

Vampire Bat :: Here we go again.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of tea].

What is it about in the first movie? :: The first part of this tale is set in the future, at the city of Chicago with the world being safely restricted inside walls. The society is divided into five factions, each standing for a quality, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were called the Divergents, and had to live a life without hope. Beatrice Prior a.k.a. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is one of them, but after managing to hide that information, she chooses the faction of Dauntless. During her time at the faction, she slows makes her way to the top after seeming like an underdog, and a good number of secrets are revealed in the process. There she destroys the plans of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) looking forward to take over.

How does the story go in the second movie? :: Jeanine Matthews, despite being stopped by Tris, doesn’t back away from her plans as an artifact box with the symbols of all factions is found. She feels the need to open the box, as it is believed to have the messages from the creators of the city. But opening of this particular box can only be done by a very strong Divergent who is able to go through the challenges of all four factions. As expected, Tris is the one to open the box after passing all the tests, and the message calls the Divergents the result of a successful experiment and calls them to return to the humanity that waits outside the walls. Jeanine is murdered, and lots of speculations go on about what awaits them outside the walls, as nobody has an idea about how it all got to the present situation.

So, what is this third movie about? :: The curiosity about what awaits outside the walls catches the interest of many people, but the soldiers under Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts) blocks all the paths that lead outside. The trials for their enemies is conducted by Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), but most of them become just executions. Tris and Four (Theo James) are not that interested in the happenings there, and escapes from inside the walls with Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to find out what is actually outside. There they find out just wastelands coloured red, and even the rain drops feel like drops of blood. But soon, they discover a group of people, who are technologically advanced. Lead by David (Jeff Daniels), they tell a story, but there is that question about how truthful these newfound allies are.

The defence of Allegiant :: One can safely say that this movie is an improvement from its predecessor, Insurgent, even though surely not as good as the first movie, Divergent. Based on the first half of the last book from the Divergent series from Veronica Roth, there is a fine setting for the interesting final movie which is to come. The visuals are pretty much interesting, and the world surely looks good. The action sequences get better here, and story is also an improvement from its predecessor which had spent too much time around a box. This one also has a rather positive progress of things, and comes to a happy finish even though that would have surely seen near impossible at some point. The lead actors are solid, and the romance between the leads is also something that works. The message is also on the positive side, and there should be something to take home for many.

Claws of flaw :: There is trouble in the acting department here and there, and not all special effects are that interesting to the eye. There are parts of this world which could have looked better in another way, and a number of dialogues could have also been better constructed in a more serious manner. This is also nothing like The Hunger Games which has actually proven to be the better dystopian flick with almost every book and movie. There are times when we feel that this one shouldn’t have been split into two movies, as there was better scope to be further rich in content here. There was surely the chance to be real “divergent” for this movie, but that is not really utilized, with situations going predictable on many occasions, and the tension being built not that much used to the advantage – a well-known path is followed more than any other in this case.

How it finishes :: This one does manages to keep one interested with its world, and the incidents that keep happening. The three people who make the biggest impact here though, are Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Naomi Watts. With the idea already there, and with this dystopian setting so well used in other movie, this one could have done even better; but with what all it possesses, it does make a pretty good watch. This is the kind of world which has the ability to get interested in it again and again, even though you have said no to the same thing earlier. We can only wait and see how well this one has finished to set path for the final movie in the series, as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, is to be released on June 9, 2017. With lesser box-office collections for this movie, lets see how things turn out for the final one.

Release date: 18th March 2016
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Nadia Hilker, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Bill Skarsgård, Daniel Dae Kim, Mekhi Phifer, Xander Berkeley, Jonny Weston, Keiynan Lonsdale, Anna Stevenson

allegiant

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fantastic Four

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Vampire Owl :: I will miss Chris Evans and Jessica Alba while watching this new version.

Vampire Bat :: Chris Evans is Captain America. You won’t miss him. If he returns as the Human Torch, you will miss the Captain a lot more and might even make the decision to skip Marvel forever.

Vampire Owl :: I will just miss Jessica Alba then.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is fair, because I miss her too.

[Gets the tickets and cheese popcorn].

✠ This review was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/986-fantastic-four-movie-review.html

Having the history of an unreleased film in 1994 and adding another reboot and a sequel in 2005 and 2007 which had not much critical appreciation, Fantastic Four doesn’t really have history going in its favour. At least, the two movies could come up strong at the box-office. But one has to feel very strange about this new movie which currently has neither the support of the critics or the audience. With the movie clearly underperforming at the United States box-office, it is yet to be seen how it performs in some other territories, as it released on August 21st, the Friday in India.

Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) have been best friends from childhood, and have worked on building a teleporter for a very long time. Reed has been the brain of this idea which was consistently rejected by their science teachers, until Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) finds the ability in him, as he was already working on this same idea. His adopted daughter Susan Storm (Kate Mara) and his own son Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), along with Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) work with Reed on developing a giant teleporter called the Quantum Gate which would connect the human world to another dimension.

They are successful in creating the path to this dimension, but when the head of the facility Allen (Tim Blake Nelson) decides to send a group of astronauts from NASA to explore the new world, the scientists decide to become the first people to reach the new world, just like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the Moon. But as they reach this new dimension, the place is full of strange materials and Victor is absorbed into its source of energy. The rest escape, but four of them undergo big changes. They wake up in government custody, and Reed runs away while others are trained to control their powers. But the connection with the other world won’t cease to exist.

This 2015 version is not as bad as most of the reviews suggest, but it is not that good either. People will surely find the earlier version a lot better than this one. It had many advantages over this one, and the most significant one being the actors. The cast which involved Jessica Alba and Chris Evans was a joy to watch, but the same is not the case here. Except for Jamie Bell as The Thing, nobody really makes a big impact in this version. Kate Mara looks very good in that suit, and has her moments. Michael B. Jordan is no Chris Evans, and Miles Teller is not really there either. Toby Kebbell makes an impact much later, only with the mask on him.

The movie also takes a lot of time to get to the interesting part. The first half is more like a stretch which moves slowly towards the possible destination. It struggles to get to the point right through the beginning to the middle. Even after that, the story is not completely there. The beginning of the second half is that point at which the movie should have reached within half an hour. It would have been okay if the beginning was rather interesting, but it couldn’t manage to be so. This goes different and still it is predictable. The action only happens when the movie is close to the finish, and by the time the origins are established, it has ended.

The movie chooses inter-dimensional travel, which is a bold move and a welcome change, even though it is not that well implemented. The special effects are nice, even though there are limitations. There are not much of the superpowers used to display these effects. Still, the power to entertain is there, and the villain does make a better impact in this avatar which is superior to the 2005 version. The villain looks like a true challenge to the four right from the moment his other side is awakened. This version is also darker, which is a positive change. With the consistent struggles and only having the interesting moments here and there, may be this origins story can bring a better sequel.

This Fantastic Four reboot will have a tough time making an impact considering the fine quality which has been maintained by the superhero movies in the past. Even the earlier two movies featuring Fantastic Four were much ahead of this one. So the expectations were a lot higher here with hope to bring something to remember. This is not really a movie that go terrible, but just something that doesn’t go big enough. It can be considered mostly average, but the situation demanded more. In the end, there is something about which the audience can be sure about; it is the fact that among the Marvel comics based superheroes, this one is clearly a level down.

Release date: 21st August 2015 (India); 7th August 2015 (USA)
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Castellaneta, Tim Heidecker

fantasticfour

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insurgent

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A Flashback to Divergent :: I have noticed a number of people in the theatre being clueless about this, and therefore, lets take a flashback ride to the first movie. You can choose to skip this paragraph if you needn’t. In Divergent, within a future post-apocalyptic world of dysopian nature, the known human society is divided into five different factions according to the qualities of each person: they are Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the intelligent). There are tests done for the same and those who don’t fit into the factions or the Divergents are left with no part in the society. But one young lady called Beatrice Prior will join Dauntless despite being a Divergent, and will go on to stop the faction Erudite and its leader Jeanine Matthews’ attempt to take over as the leader of them all.

What is it about? :: Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) continues her hunt for power, as she finds an artifact box with the symbols of all factions. She needs to open it as the box is believed to have a message from the founders of the city, and she hopes that it can solve the problems of the Divergents restoring the remaining factions with her as the leader. But only a strong Divergent can open it as the procedure involves going through the simulation which includes the challenges of all the factions. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are on the run, but Jeanine’s team reaches them – they separate as Tris and Four leave for Candor after going through the Factionless which is lead by Four’s mother Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts). But things surely seem to be heading for a war.

The defence of The Divergent Series: Insurgent :: The idea has already been set, and so Insurgent has it easy to work with. The detail of the environment is very good, and it is good to watch he dystopian world in 3D. The special effects never cease to catch our attention in this movie. The action sequences remain interesting, and the audience only end up asking for more of the same. The idea of being Divergent is taken to another level, and there is twist at the ending which leaves us hoping for more in the sequel – hope the next movie delivers a lot more. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 will get released next year and The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2 in 2017, and lets hope that this works very well as there seems to be something big coming, as the impression has been made.

The Claws of Flaw :: Insurgent is a step backward from Divergent, and it is not divergent in its treatment of the subject. It doesn’t go on to establish itself as a special dystopian movie as we had expected with the ending of the first movie. The first one had established the world, but this one actually has almost nothing related to a dystopia which is provided directly and we are left to pick up a few things here and there. The message is not that powerful here with the divergence and the society. Instead, this movie tries to hold on to predictability and last minute escapes. The movie should have dared to go outside what it has established and could have brought more here. Instead, the movie manages to go on and on with the idea that we already have. There is no real attempt to change the society in a big way other than trying to bring the dictator down. Divergents are also just declared special!

Performers of the soul :: It can be safely said that it is Shailene Woodley who saves this movie from going further down its level. She has given her best here, carrying this movie forward as the Divergent protagonist. She has only made things better here, and she is the one who provides this movie with any opportunity to match up-to its predecessor even though Insurgent doesn’t end up doing so. Among the new additions to the movie, Naomi Watts stays ahead of the others, as is very much convincing and interesting. Theo James just manages to be okay playing the support. Ansel Elgort has a forgettable outing there as the strange brother character. Kate Winslet manages to be just an okay villain while Miles Teller is very good here.

Soul exploration :: Just like its predecessor, this movie also focuses on what it takes to be different or divergent, and focuses on the journey that occurs due to not agreeing to the norms of the society. In a world where moving away from the accepted norms of the society is a crime, one heroine continues to rise. This divergence leads to revolution and a change of order. Identities change here, and being smart comes with the extreme desire to rule over the others, which the intelligent faction in the movie displays. They are the masters of science and cannot stand someone else who is better than them, just like the Divergents who are good in more than one skill, and from their jealousy, the movie moves forward to the next level.

How it finishes :: The movie is based on the book of the same name, which is the second book in the much talked about Divergent trilogy written by Veronica Roth, even though the fans here seems to be lesser in number. The first one was an interesting movie itself, and the second one nicely follows the path which was set up by its prequel without doing anything special, which makes Divergent the better movie without doubt. This actually became the first Hollywood movie I watched this month, and may be the only one of its kind which I managed to review. Yes, my movie watching adventures have been decreasing, thanks to the censor board banning movies, and some of them not even making all the way here. There are also personal reasons, but I am going to find time for the same here and there as long as the bans and the selections of movies by the theatres make more sense.

Release date: 20th March 2015
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Mekhi Phifer, Ashley Judd, Daniel Dae Kim, Keiynan Lonsdale, Suki Waterhouse, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony, Janet McTeer, Jonny Weston

insurgent

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Divergent

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Dystopia, the weakness :: The more relevant opinions should say that the weakness that haunts the world is more related to vampire romance, something which completely destroys the purpose of existence of vampires, no wonder Louis de Pointe du Lac felt that his life was pointless, and Anne Rice might have had a good idea what was to come next when she sat down to write Interview With the Vampire and all those works which followed in The Vampire Chronicles. Now, dystopia has risen to a level which is close to the vampire romance, and thanks to The Hunger Games, the scope for such fiction is proved immense; one has to agree that even Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and its movie adaptation had an extended feeling of dystopia enforced by the aliens. My first idea of dystopia came from Stephen King’s The Running Man which I read long ago, and that 1987 movie of the same name, Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso. A dystopian America sells quite well. Even mindless movies like Escape from New York worked very well (questioned only by its own sequel Escape from L.A.) and now we know what a safe territory is, even safer than some vampire romance which can coin the terms like “still a better love story than Twilight“.

What is it about? :: The story is set in a future Chicago as the world has transformed into a dystopia inside walls. The society has been divided into five factions with five different qualities, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were to live a hopeless life. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) has grown up in Abnegation with her parents and brother, and it was the faction that run the government. Its selflessness was proven by their work in taking care of the poor, the sick and the factionless. To the surprise and sadness of their parents, her brother chooses Erudite and she chooses Dauntless, even as she does know that she is a “divergent” who has different qualities and such a person is considered a threat to the current social order in the dystopia. Christina (Zoë Kravitz) and Al (Christian Madsen), two former Candors, and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), a former Erudite joins her friends group as she struggles to go on with an environment with which she is not familiar. She starts off at the bottom of the list threatened to be thrown out, but slowly begins to make her way up with the help of the instructor Four (Theo James). Soon, there will be more secrets to be unveiled though.

The defence of Divergent :: Another world awaits you in Divergent, a world which you are not unaware of, but it is still a world which you will enjoy once again – it is that kind of a world which gathers a dimension for just curiosity itself and thrives on it like Count Dracula on drop of blood. In the beginning itself, they show a huge fence, seemingly electrical along with skyscrapers which seems to have survived some Armageddon which ravished a lot of the known world. Its themes are many and its world nicely detailed with some nice effects added here and there. The post-apocalyptic city is really nice, with a train running through the centre and buildings connected with some kind of mechanical technology. The action sequences are nice and realistic, and the final combat scenes are well done. There is melee combat as well as shooting, and a lot more during the time of training for the fearless ones. The idea of the divergent among the factions is nicely developed out of something which we are all familiar with – the rebellion in the dystopia. The leap of faith moment and the initiation in style are two things I loved more than the rest.

The claws of flaw :: This movie is quite a lot like The Hunger Games, and explores a similar setting with a dystopia and training of young people to be capable for violence and if possible, inflict death upon the enemies. There is no deathmatch here, but there is that capture the flag (Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena fans check!). Being alienated is becoming far too common a thing these days as corruption in politics, the worst of such thing inflicted upon us by Kristen Stewart’s Isabella Swann. The movie’s faction choosing ceremony reminds us of the four houses of Harry Potter, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff. Remember the choosing of jobs in City of Ember? That should be another memory slowly coming out forced by the incident. The movie could have tried something innovative to have its own identity which would look entirely different from the rest. But taking the safe path was going to be more suitable for the first movie of a possible trilogy with a possible extensions due to divisions. But one can be sure that all the flaws of the whole franchise might be lesser than those from just one half of any movie of the Twilight series, especially the latter ones. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones did come with more flaws, but that was pure nonsense.

Performers of the Soul :: There was the awesome Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, and one might not be able to place anyone else in her place with a similar setting around. But Shailene Woodley is very close, and she is so good as the character that one feels almost of the same feeling for Beatrice Prior that was felt for Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire. Shailene has almost everything that the Twilight heroine lacked, and she makes sure that Beatrice is never out of control. She fits into that world right from the beginning and gives us one of the best female protagonists in a dystopia. She has great moments and wonderful lines in a movie which depends so much on her performance and she delivers. She is not just the cute face right there. It is sad that Kate Winslet had so less to do in a role which was about being a mastermind villain from the faction of intelligence. The same can be said about Maggie Q who is just there to be there! Ashley Judd’s existence itself is her presence in the movie. Theo James does his role nicely, and finishes strong as the trainer and the lover. I will leave special mention for Zoë Kravitz as Christina who looked and acted wonderfully throughout the movie.

Soul exploration :: The movie has a lot of themes being explored in it, both directly and indirectly in its world. The whole division into four factions according their qualities and job is more like the ancient caste system itself, but lets not go further into that. In the case of factions, there are people who think different and has the ability to go against this order which forms the core of this dystopia – they are the divergents, to be better known as the rebels. As such a world is lead by the sympathetic faction, one can only wonder how long before two others, the brains and the muscle power can take over. So we need the divergents. What about our current society? Don’t we need them as a dystopia always threaten to happen in one place or the other? Haven’t such “different” people contributed a lot more to the world than the normal ones? When I was in school, I was to expect to join one of the two factions, engineering and medicine, with the two hidden faction, commerce and management – where did I join? Well, I had to diverge, and that had to be dauntless. That was just an example, but lets choose to be different rather than fit into groups with difficulty. Lets just not take the violence in the movie with it.

How it finishes :: Based on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, the movie present us with another dystopian world to ponder over. Even as I haven’t read any work by her, this does seem to work quite well. Being the opposite of utopia, dystopia always had the power to keep the readers and viewers interested. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin told us the story of a world which is slave to logic and machines, completely against any kind of creativity. George Orwell gave us more in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World might be the title which comes to the mind of most people. Remember Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange too. There are lots of such novels which has explored the themes related to dystopia in a powerful way. Divergent takes a leap into the same, but not exactly in the same way. I don’t know about the book, but the movie does fine as it throws at the audience everything it got. The visual media has been nicely used for the same purpose. It released here late, and as this is a festival season full of regional movies, the movie won’t do that well here, and the shows are limited too – quite the bad time of the year to release this one here!

PS: Don’t read the name as “Detergent” because one of my friends did! 😀

Release date: 11th April 2014 (India); 21st March 2014 (US)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.