The Soul

Vampire Owl: Do you think that vampires can have an extra soul?

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand why one would require one as extra.

Vampire Owl: What if a soul is lost? We can use the other one.

Vampire Bat: The souls are not lost as long as we are living dead.

Vampire Owl: When did we start referring to the undead as living dead?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we have always been the living dead.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t argue as death is only the beginning.

Vampire Bat: There is no undead without the appropriate kind of death.

Vampire Owl: Maybe humans will also understand that death is the true solution.

Vampire Bat: They are less afraid to kill than to die, which is strange.

[Gets a mango cake and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Wang Shi-Cong (Samuel Ku), a very rich man and the founder of a medical firm developing cancer treatment based on ultra-modern technology is found murdered. His wife who has also remained a respectable figure, Li Yan (Sun Anke) is discovered to be holding the weapon used for the brutal murder, quite a strange knife-like blunt thing indeed. There are also some strange writings on the door and all over the walls. At the same time, Ah-Bao (Janine Chang), a detective is expecting a child very soon. Liang Wen-Chao (Chang Chen), her husband is having an advanced stage of cancer, and it doesn’t seem to get any better. His cancer seems to be spreading and resisting the existing modes of treatment, and the doctor gives them the advice to consider doing a RNA restoration technology. Liang, who has been working as a prosecutor, decides to join back, as a lot of money is required for his treatment – he had asked her to let him skip that costly treatment, but she has been very adamant in keeping him alive.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ah-Bao is assigned the case of Wang’s murder, and Liang goes on to become the prosecutor once again, much to the surprise of his wife who was expecting him to take rest. Li Yang tells them that it was their son, Wang Tian-You (Erek Lin) who committed some strange rituals in the same room and murdered his father who had earlier disinherited him because of his strange and unacceptable behaviour. They remember that he only comes back home rarely, and has the same symbol which was seen in the room, tattooed on his body. He has a lot of magical symbols tattooed on his body, and talks about some particular gods and spirits which are not that well-known. He was heartbroken after his mother, the first wife of Wang died, and has been talking about vengeance since then. It seems that other than his wife, the dead man had left another inheritance as the next in line. The detective also understands that the dead man used to have different affairs with many women, which had ruined their world. The first wife also had enough information about hier husband’s life.

What lies beneath the secrets which are unveiled around here? :: There is also the talk about the first wife placing a curse on Wang before death, and about the second wife coming out of an orphanage, with no roots. But they do understand that this particular woman had changed a lot after coming to the mansion. In the beginning, she was very nice to everyone around, and very careful in her behaviour. It felt as if she wanted to be good to make an impression. But that seems to change soon, as they look through the CCTV cameras for some old footages. She wasn’t the person whom she used to be, as she even started talking to nothingness, which she understood as ghosts. They wonder if it was a case of possession or the result of some drugs which were introduced by the medical firm. A bigger surprise is that she who was a right-hander is now a left-hander. Is it science or some dark curse which is behind all of these? After all, isn’t science the modern necromancy? How many secrets can this particular world hold? There seems to be something really strange going on around here, and is anyone good enough to find the truth?

The defence of The Soul a.k.a. Ji Hun :: The movie never stops keeping us interested in the mystery of science or magic, whichever seems to surround a grand investigation. It does keep us guessing through its run, and is very much effective in doing the same. The twists are very much unpredictable, and with so many red herrings around, one only keeps wondering about how good are the characters who have figured it out inside the tale. At a specific point, you make a guess about the characters, and then you have to think differently about them. At one point, you feel that there is the talk about soul in its original form, but then all you see is science. You wonder about psychological problems and demonic possession at the same time. In the end, it is not anywhere close to what you were thinking in the early stages, and there is so much going on around there. Any more revealing would annihilate the beauty of the surprise and twists in here. The movie moves forward beautifully, as if it is poetry in motion, and the level of immersion of the audience that it provides is simply magnificent. The emotional side does help further in its movement forward – you do feel them running strong. The visuals and the music also remains extraordinary and contributes well to the dark beauty.

Positives and negatives :: The movie’s slowness also has a certain amount of beauty related to it, and we watch it move as if part of an elegy written in memory. Well, there is no doubt that it could have traveled somewhat a quicker path as it seems to be in need of being called a thriller rather than anything else – yet, it can be said that The Soul keeps us immersed around here, even without picking up the pace that much when it could have done the same. The details in each moment will still make sure that you are always attentive around here, and there are some top performers to support the same. Chang Chen gets into this character so well that we become attached to the same – there is a lot of immersion into the plight of the character taking place here, and that feels unbelievably realistic. In the beginning, one feels that Janine Chang is the one playing the protagonist, and even though she is not the one doing that, blends in perfectly, and excels in the emotional moments. Then there is Sun Anke who plays the woman in identity crisis with a lot of perfection – it is a role which requires a lot of dedication, and her different expressions are so much of the reflection of her calibre.

How it finishes :: The movie has one of the most complicated plots than any film has had in a long time, and it makes sure that we are always guessing. There has not been many movies which had our guesses going wrong by such a long way. By the end of the film, you are standing on a lot different ground than where you found yourself in the beginning. Well, the world of science and spiritual beliefs can both be strange enough, and this one makes use of both, while placing them in a corporate world where the only thing that reigns supreme is selfishness and a display of a fake “normal” image. I would consider this to be the best movie of the year and also the best film which I have found on Netflix among the last few years’ releases. Then, there is also those final questions which the movie leaves for all of us – what makes one a person? Is it the soul? In that case, where does the soul lie? In the memories of the brain or the emotions of the heart? Or is it something which has no real shape or size to be seen? Well, we will never know, that seems to be a surety. Until then, there are some fine Chinese movies to watch.

Release date: 29th January 2021 (China); 14th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Cheng Wei-hao
Starring: Chang Chen, Janine Chang, Sun Anke, Christopher Lee, Baijia Zhang, Erek Lin, Samuel Ku, Daniel Chang, Lu Hsueh-feng

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Awake

Vampire Owl: We are not supposed to be awake at this time.

Vampire Bat: We are awake because we are not supposed to go through eternal sleep.

Vampire Owl: Nothing is eternal, other than our immortality.

Vampire Bat: There are still limitations to our immortal nature.

Vampire Owl: The limitations have been imposed by the suppression of our true nature.

Vampire Bat: There is no definition of true nature of the undead.

Vampire Owl: It is what separates us, the undead from the undying.

Vampire Bat: You feel that it is going to matter in the end, do you?

Vampire Owl: Yes, we are going to live for such a long time.

Vampire Bat: Life after death do no usually count as life with its original meaning.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Jill Adams (Gina Rodriguez) is a recovering drug addict, who is now working as a security guard at a local college, after serving as a United States Army medic much earlier. Along with the same, she also steals drugs from the research lab to sell them outside. She picks up her children Noah (Lucius Hoyos) and Matilda (Ariana Greenblatt) after work, only to meet an accident on the road, as it seems that everything which works with electricity is malfunctioning. All the cars lose control on the road, and there are many accidents. All the buildings have also lost power. The three somehow manages to get to the nearby hospitals, as people keep talking about this being a terrorist attack, maybe from the Chinese. In the hospital, they find out that the patients in coma have awakened, much to the surprise of the doctors and nurses who were treating them. At night, they are not able to sleep, and they attribute this inability to the trauma which they had to go through, related to the accident. As she travels to work using a bicycle, she is surprised to find out that the whole neighbourhood is awake.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It turns out that nobody is able to sleep anymore. It turns out that anything with a microchip is fried, and of no use to anyone. Dr Murphy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a psychiatrist understands that the sleeplessness will soon lead to the symptoms of complete sleep deprivation, and finally to death, but at a quicker pace. The only exception to this seems to be an old woman, whom they are researching on, hoping to find a cure to this seemingly terrifying disease. Jill then remembers that unlike others, Matilda could also fall asleep, and she searches for her, finally finding her at the church. Brian (Finn Jones) also tries to help them, and asks her to bring her daughter to Dr Murphy, but she disagrees. The pastor tells the followers that the girl is a beacon of hope, and they should pray to God for another miracle like her. But the sleep-deprived people feels that they should sacrifice her. As there is a fight in the church, and as Brian also asks for the girl to be handed over, Jill escapes with her children. But how far can they go?

The defence of Awake :: The movie does have the smart and innovative idea and the fine beginning, which could have surely served better if the move was quicker and better focused. The idea of humans not being able to sleep, which finally leads to their loss of mind and in the end, the extinction, is really an interesting concept – anyone who might have read about it or had a clue about the same would wish to watch the movie. This one can still use the same to make a better sequel in a world which has almost reached its end with humanity. The first few moments of accidents and waking up makes a good start, and then there is the scene at the church which makes one question humanity’s inherent evil, followed by the beginning of the journey of the protagonists – all of these have some good strength. The strange moments of the movie are also innovative enough, and mostly working, especially in the first half. The mother trying to save her children and teaching the little girl how to drive, are all interesting survival additions, and could have had better purpose. Along with the same, the visuals are pretty much beautiful.

The claws of flaw :: Awake is a movie which goes on with a slower pace than it would suit a post-apocalyptic film. It often seems to slow down for no reason at all. It also hesitates to take the opportunities which are there, and despite the grand premise, cannot come up with an ending of similar grandeur. This was one great chance to make something that would be remembered for long, but that is not case here. There are so many moments which could have been dealt with, and it is surprising that both science and religion don’t have the solution, but nonsensical kids do. There could have been better explanation of the happenings around here, as we have had strange events with alien or other paranormal attacks from the skyline or even from beneath. It could have also had more action, and maybe some horror elements too, as we have the beginning of a post-apocalyptic world here, and after all, humans are capable of the worst every time. Some more special effects could have also done this one good.

The performers of the soul :: Gina Rodriguez plays the mother figure really well. There has been better appreciated mothers in the past, but she has her moments too, even though her character remains one flawed mother. Ariana Greenblatt as Matilda is pretty much an annoying kid who is weird enough, and one has to wonder if the character was deliberately designed so – we surely had some better kids in the past. Lucius Hoyos as Noah doesn’t have that much of a work to do, as this one is just another teenager moving around during a terrible event, and nothing more is added here. Finn Jones played an interesting character, but unfortunately, the person is killed all of a sudden. Frances Fisher plays the grandmother figure pretty well too. Barry Pepper who plays the pastor has some fine moments, and he also has the dialogues of faith and hope to remember. Maybe, the pastor and the church could have been there for a longer period of time than a few minutes that we had. Jennifer Jason Leigh also has something to add, but we expected her to do more, after we had her in the earlier stages of the movie.

How it finishes :: The movie has a really interesting main idea – what would happen if we lose our ability to sleep? It is a question which can haunt us for a very long time, and this could have been a brilliant movie with the best use of the same idea. But it is certainly not the case here, as even though they have tried, the movie has struggled to live up to the idea, making it just another usual movie which goes through the post-apocalyptic world without surprises. It is often disappointing that a movie doesn’t use the best use of the opportunities presented to it. But we continue to watch this one as we are curious, and we are concerned about what is to happen next – the movie manages to create that desire to watch, and even with its slow pace, there is the movement towards that final destination, keeping it floating. It is the kind of movie which you can surely watch to pass the time, and at the same time, also ponder about the core idea – what if sleep evades you? How long can you hold on without being able to go to sleep?

Release date: 9th June 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Mark Raso
Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barry Pepper, Finn Jones, Ariana Greenblatt, Gil Bellows, Barry Pepper, Lucius Hoyos, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sebastian Pigott

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhoothakaalam

Vampire Owl: So, the title could mean the days of the past as well as the days of the ghost.

Vampire Bat: It is a nice play on the words being used here.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Malayalam movie industry can have good horror anymore?

Vampire Bat: Well, horror is the only reality of life. So, it is always possible.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the realistic tendencies of the industry can help.

Vampire Bat: Yes, what is life, but a collection of horror of reality?

Vampire Owl: I can’t disagree. I once heard the story of the devil finding the burning hell as a better place to live in comparison to Earth.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know what humans are capable of. They have already made their world a place worse than hell.

Vampire Owl: So, who are the real monsters?

Vampire Bat: Humans are the real monsters, from the day of birth itself. You should see how they torment their own people.

[Gets a chicken biriyani and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Vinu (Shane Nigam) is a D.Pharm graduate who is living with his mother, Asha (Revathy) in what seems to have been a very unhappy household since the death of Vinu’s father post leaving a lot of money to be paid back for the loans which were taken. His grandmother dies after living most of her life on the bed after a terrible stroke which she barely survived, and the life of mother and son which was full of negativity only gets worse after the demise. Vinu has been looking for a job for a long time, but as he is focusing on getting some work in his field, and is also trying to keep the search close to home, he is not really able to make any progress with that. Depression seems to come naturally to him, as well as his mother, who is a school teacher for small children. Asha is also hesitant to send him anywhere distant, especially to go for a job which is not directly related to the course which he studied. She also temporarily losses her job, as she ends up hitting a child accidently.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The mother and the son continues to have arguments over the past, present and future, as Vinu decides to find a job outside Kerala or even India at some hotels where his friends are working. Asha finds him as a rather useless person, as she originally wanted him to study MBBS, and they had spent a lot of money related to that too. But soon, things get worse, as Vinu feels that he was locked within a room by his dead grandmother, who moves around in the wheel chair. Asha feels that he needs counselling, but he doesn’t agree. George (Saiju Kurup) who runs a counselling centre comes home to help him, but Vinu is not happy about it at all, as he feels that he is being marked as an alcoholic and drug addict. George also feels that the sleeplessness might also be a reason, along with the mental problems which runs within the family. Vinu is in love with Priya (Athira Patel), but has stopped returning her calls, as he does almost nothing, while staying in his room, or in front of the television. But he continues to see and feel things – can this mean something else?

The defence of Bhoothakaalam :: Starting off as a movie which seems to have characters with some mental problems related to trauma, it smoothly enters the horror mode after some time. With many options being left behind, one can make different guesses about what actually happened. The minimum elements are used effectively, and the atmosphere of the house also brings a certain amount nostalgia – like our old houses which had mosaic on the floor along with some old style furniture as well as spaces on the wall. The darkness and shadows are pretty much effective in bringing the scares, and there is much to be felt about the possible presence in the house – they contribute to reaching a point where the title can be justified. The emotional side is also very much working, and there is much of the feelings going through here. Even with all the terror coming from outside, there is also the presence of the depressing past related to regret which continues to haunt everyone – the memories can be disorienting enough, as we move forward through a world of chaotic mind here too.

The claws of flaw :: Bhoothakaalam often restricts itself in the use of horror, except for the finally fifteen to twenty minutes when the film is finally allowed to unleash itself, bringing all the elements which it had in store, but didn’t use early enough. It does take its own time, and one feels that it is moving too slowly during that period of time. There are movies which slowly gets stronger, like Come Play, In Fear and It Follows, and one might feel that this might not feel that new with the early slow movement. The mind could have been given better focus, and the presence in the house could have also been better explained, thus leading to a better final finish. It is surely not that scary as some people seem to talk about it – there is something to be frightened about, but not that much as what the reviews exaggerate here, for only those who haven’t watched Hollywood horror movies at all can be that scared about it. After all, these are not the days when people are scared of ghosts that much, because humans have proven themselves to be more evil, each and every time. Ghosts have to be a special kind of scary to rise about human demonic acts.

The performers of the soul :: Shane Nigam continues his work more out of Kumbalangi Nights rather than the other movies, as he once again plays a similar youth who doesn’t really have a job for a multitude of reason, even though he is better educated this time. Revathy’s work continues to be a thing of quality, as he plays a mother role with a difference. There are moments which rises above the natural so well. James Eliya seems to be the man with logic, and has his moments of advice. Jilu Joseph has a small presence as a psychiatrist, as it is Saiju Kurup who deals with the counselling more, and even finds out a few secrets about the house – one would have loved to see more actions being taken by him here. Manju Pathrose plays the usual nosy neighbour, a role which is quite short. Valsala Menon played the grandmother, and that was the role which also lasted for only a few minutes as the movie continues to focus on the mother-son duo for almost all the time. Athira Patel is more or less the Mamitha Baiju of Operation Java coming in here as the seemingly forced love affair which in this case doesn’t reach anywhere in comparison.

How it finishes :: When we think about ghosts and past, the first movie which comes to our mind is Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, a Gothic romance horror which was not watched by that many people in this part of the world. But the past that haunts this movie is more or less related a good number of other horror movies, with one haunted house as well as a psychological side, both complimenting each other, sometimes from a distance, and at times, getting close enough and going through one another in style. Bhoothakaalam doesn’t hesitate to combine its elements, and then come up with the defining moments in the final stages of the film. This is surely a good deviation from the usual horror movies that we have in the Malayalam movie industry, and just like some of the other Sony LIV movies which released in the last few months, like Madhuram and Kaanekaane, this one also has a strong emotional side to go with. Well, you can also have some interesting horror with relationships running emotional in the background, for the ghosts are better and truer with their emotions than the fake humans.

Release date: 21st January 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Sadasivan
Starring: Shane Nigam, Revathy, Athira Patel, Saiju Kurup, Manju Pathrose, James Eliya, Jilu Joseph, Valsala Menon

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Possessor

Vampire Owl: We do feel that we are possessed very often.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but they are gentle spirits of the forest.

Vampire Owl: There are gentle possessors. Possessing another person’s body is evil.

Vampire Bat: The gentle spirits of the forests have the right to possess.

Vampire Owl: It is not that gentle a possession. I know that.

Vampire Bat: There is a deal between Vampire Elders and the Spirits. You have to honour that as part of our allegiance.

Vampire Owl: There is no honour among non-vampire entities.

Vampire Bat: Honour is just a word. The definition goes by our actions.

Vampire Owl: Possession of another person’s body is not an act of honour.

Vampire Bat: Well, honour depends a lot on the opinions anyway.

[Gets some potato chips and three glasses of Spanish delight shake].

What is the movie about? :: In a certain alternate reality, Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is living as an assassin, but that requires her to take control of others’s bodies to carry out the murders which have become part of her life. The agency of the assassins use an implany installed in the captured host’s brain to control the person, and Vos’ consciousness is inserted in there. Vos decides how to go through the murder using the new body. After the job is completed, she forces the host to commit suicide, or get shot by people, which is the basically the only way for her to get back to her own body. She is considered to be one of the best assassins the group ever had, but as she spends too much of time in the bodies of others, imitating them, she struggles with her identity, and often fails to understand who she really is. She has to practice in her real life to speak normally, just like she has to practice before taking the identity of others. The memories of the murders which she had committed continues to haunt her at all time, spoiling her limited time with her family.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is in control of the agency, is confident about Vos, but hopes that she is detached from her family, which would make her an even better assassin, as attachments are holding her back. She also holds on to lot of her memories from the past. She is forced to take the next assignment too early despite not being that stable – this time, she has to take the body of Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott) and murder the host’s lover Ava Parse (Tuppence Middleton) and his future father-in-law John Parse (Sean Bean), who is a wealthy CEO – the large amount of money and the properties are the target here. In the end, the CEO’s stepson would be taking over the company, and this would also bring the agency a lot of money. But the mission is only a partial success, as Ava is dead, but not the main target, John Parse survives. Vos is not able to escape from the body either, as she cannot make him commit suicide. She understands that she cannot leave this body due to a damaged implant, and she is now strong enough to overpower his will. Now, an inside crisis begins.

The defence of Possessor :: Possessor does have some fine ideas behind it, and we feel them to be strong in the first half of the film. The initial scene is quite a strong one, and it is what makes us very much interested in seeing what is to be followed. There is the courage to go divergent, which is seen here, even though the same losses the strength after showing so much strength in the beginning. The question is indeed asked about identity here, and the problems when one person tries to becomes someone else. It tells the viewers that the basic nature always wins, and you just cannot try to be another person like acting a role. The movie does remain dark throughout its run, and there is nothing like hope of positivity being thrown here, even though we feel that there is a family with a child involved, and there would be a “happily ever after” coming up soon. Well, we know that reality is a dark, tragic space where people are only interested in selfish deeds, and therefore, this movie more or less reflects the same. After all, humanity is not of hope in the present, past or the future.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t really have the strength to go through this idea with the visuals, which could have been better, and the action could have been stronger too. The science fiction elements could have also been used with clarity around here. Some more clarity would have only helped the movie, and as it moves towards the end, the focus seems to be somewhat lost, even though the beginning stages were making us wishing for the better. Too many images come and go here, but without them coming together well enough, this cannot be considered as the best of use of the available resources. You can always have a Hitman, John Wick, Gemini Man or Anna doing their job, but not without some fine visualizations. The early death of Tuppence Middleton is also disappointing, considering the fact that she was one nice addition to the film. In the end, one does wonder if all these were for this one thing, as you were expecting that grand finish, and not something like this.

Performers of the soul :: Andrea Riseborough’s performance is the one to remember, and there is no doubt about the same. Her work is limited due to some strange visions and the lack of clarity which the movie has. Christopher Abbott does a pretty good job, but having the mind-controlled, confused character not leaving out the complication at any moment, leaves him limited too. Tuppence Middleton is the actress whom we had seen in a supporting role in Jupiter Ascending, and she has the skill to come up with something notable out of nowhere – it is no exception here. She is lovely, but we don’t get to see her for more, as her character is killed, and we see another work from her vanish too early for our liking. Sean Bean is very good yet again, and when he is there, we love how things proceed. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays another complicated character who has a few moments to remember. Rossif Sutherland’s role is rather limited here, and when we begin to feel that Kaniehtiio Horn was going to show promise, her character is also killed.

How it finishes :: Possessor seems to be the one movie which is more critically acclaimed and award-winning at the film festivals. The movie is interesting, and does have its moments, but one might not find it as that grand as those critical appreciations suggest. As I had written in the earlier paragraphs, the idea is very good and so are the messages, but they could have shown in a better way, and some of the characters could have also been used in better ways rather than just killing them. Yet, we are interested in the divergent idea and the path less taken, as we look forward to seeing such risks being taken further. If you like the difference in ideas being taken into consideration without holding back, this would appeal to you. Other than that, this one goes on a slow journey which begins strong, and gets weaker by the end, not strengthening its possibilities. So, it is a personal decision to be made on watching this film, and as these are the times of Corona virus pandemic, most decisions are indeed personal in nature, as solitude comes with different pandemics of the world, and the quarantine that follows the same.

Release date: 2nd October 2020
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Tuppence Middleton, Kaniehtiio Horn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Abbott, Rossif Sutherland, Sean Bean, Raoul Bhaneja, Gabrielle Graham, Gage Graham-Arbuthnot

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Replicas

Vampire Owl: Do you think that there will be people like us forming replicas?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I am sure that there will be at least a few, but not with the same vampiric characteristics and skills.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that a vampire can be cloned?

Vampire Bat: Yes, but the resulting person can only be a human, because vampiric traits cannot be taken into a clone.

Vampire Owl: So, you are saying that a vampire when cloned, becomes human?

Vampire Bat: I would think so. It is what Doctor Frankenstein said.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t listen to the mad doctor in this particular case.

Vampire Bat: Maybe, you can see what happens in this movie.

Vampire Owl: Keanu Reeves is back with another science fiction movie?

Vampire Bat: Yes, it hasn’t managed to have many positive opinions, but I have a feeling that we are going to like it. After all, there are more people like our Frankenstein.

[Gets a paper roast and three glasses of pineapple juice].

What is the movie about? :: William Foster (Keanu Reeves) and Ed Whittle (Thomas Middleditch) are scientists working for a a rich and influential American company set in Puerto Rico. This research firm known as Bionyne Corporation has been known for trying the impossible, with the amount of money they have put in to the scientific research which would help many people in the United States of America, and all around the world. Their attempt to transfer the mind of dead soldiers into a robot codenamed 345 keeps failing, and with the last attempt, it shows self-destructive behaviour, and the scientists are forced to stop the experiment until they find the missing link which would help them to connect the brain with the new robotic body. William and Ed tries to find a solution using their skills in defining neural pathways and human cloning respectively.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Jones (John Ortiz), their boss warns them about stopping this project and firing them, because those who had invested in this project needed results, and not just progress. William decides to go to a boating trip with his wife Mona Foster (Alice Eve) and three children Sophie Foster (Emily Alyn Lind), Zoe Foster (Aria Leabu) and Matt Foster (Emjay Anthony). But the trip turns to be a disaster, as a tree falls on the car, and the vehicle which losses control crashes into a river, leading to the death of William’s wife and children. But William doesn’t want to give up, and he calls Ed with the necessary equipment, hoping to bring his family back again. But will that work out as he expect them to? Is he good enough to do what he had earlier tried, this time with his family? Will the returning members of his family be the same? What will the company think if they find out what he has beeing trying to do?

The defence of Replicas :: The idea that lies beneath is movie is really strong, and serves well enough to keep the movie going – we have seen the dead person’s mind being transferred to a robot before, in movies like RoboCop, a franchise which has had some interesting movies, and a not that interesting reboot. We had also seen similar elements in Ghost in the Shell, and therefore, the scope was surely there. The movie’s best moments include the scene in which the wife is taken out of the pod, the man taking the corpses of his family and placing it on the side of the river, the moment when the wife knows what is happening, and also the final moments of the movie which has an interesting twist. The movie does have its thrilling moments in between, and the last few minutes are even quicker in action. After all, you know what Keanu Reeves is capable of.

The claws of flaw :: The opinions about the movie hasn’t been that good, but it is mostly because people have been overthinking this idea. After all, this is science fiction, and we are not really bothered about the science part as much as fiction, because most of us leave it with the tenth standard of plus two. Most of us haven’t used most of the advanced science and mathematics which we learned during those later years of school in life, and having chosen another stream, frying the brain with such things are indeed useless. But, there is no denying the fact that Replicas could have been better if it had dealt with the problems of cloning – instead, everything seems to be too easy here, and finally, our protagonist has a fine solution to all of these, and it all seems to be custom made for him, with him getting all that he wanted. After all, he is not John Wick, at least for now.

Performers of the soul :: Keanu Reeves has been a man known for Speed and The Matrix, and recently, very much as the hitman in John Wick, as he kept on murdering people one after the other as the popular assassin. Other than the action thrillers, he has suited the best for science fiction movies, and we have already seen that some movies actually combined these genres to make the best out of his works. He has no problem in working with role either, as he remains solid. Alice Eve is the perfect choice to play the cloned wife, as she gets that kind of a look in her face perfectly, and we remember how well she had dealt with her role in Star Trek Into Darkness – she gets into science fiction very well. Thomas Middleditch played his role, just okay while John Ortiz makes a pretty good villain. Emily Alyn Lind who was seen in Doctor Sleep also does good with the other kids, even though they are not significant around here.

How it finishes :: Replicas is the kind of movie which we usually miss at the theatres because there are not many screens being assigned to it, and it is also the kind of movie which the critics tend to bash by trying to find some science in it, when what the usual audience wants from a science fiction is only a very minute amount of science – otherwise, it would be too boring for the common man. I found the movie to be an entertaining one, and the thrills felt real, as we wanted to know the consequences of the protagonist trying to play god like Frankenstein did in a novel, many years ago. The emotional sequences also connect very well, and Keanu Reeves could easily pull this off, but he couldn’t satisfy the critics enough, as it seems from the low rating the movie received. During this lock-down season, try giving Replicas a chance, and lets see how much you agree to the critical opinions.

Release date: 11th January 2019
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz, Emily Alyn Lind, Emjay Anthony, Aia Leabu, Nyasha Hatendi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sibyl

Vampire Owl: I have heard that name before, and not just once.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if you go back in history, sibyls were oracles in Ancient Greece.

Vampire Owl: They had prophesied at holy sites of Greece, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, and their prophecies were supposed to be influenced by the gods.

Vampire Owl: I guess that they also lead to the foundation of many great cities.

Vampire Bat: Yes, because they go a long way back, with Heraclitus mentioning them in the 5th century BC itself.

Vampire Owl: Well, when gods speak through these women, you are forced to accept that it is the truth.

Vampire Bat: What they spoke were also collected in Sibylline Books. The Romans had them.

Vampire Owl: I have seen them at other places too, I am sure about it.

Vampire Bat: Michelangelo shows five sibyls in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. There are other similar art works, and has references in the works of Shakespeare. It is to be seen how this relates the movie here or if it is just a name used for the sake of it.

[Gets an marble cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A popular psychotherapist Sibyl (Virginie Efira) decides to quit her job and become a famous writer as she always wanted to. Her job no longer interested her, and work satisfaction gets to zero despite her patients feeling otherwise, not being able to continue without her expertise in their lives. As Sibyl begins to turn away patients, she has a lot of time, but no inspiration, reaching the writer’s block earlier than she had expected. It is why when she gets a call from Margot (Adele Exarchopoulos), a young new actress caught in a dramatic affair with a popular actor, Igor (Gaspard Ulliel) in the same movie, who is living with the film’s director Mikaela Sanders (Sandra Huller). This seems to be a complicated enough tale for a story as far as Sibyl is concerned, just like the newspapers finding entertainment from the lives of these celebrities who make news from the dress they wear, places they visit, food they eat and the people they meet.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The celebrity life becomes something special for the new writer, as far as entertainment is concerned, as she asks Margot about the minute details of their life, and records them using her mobile phone’s sound recorder to listen to the same later. Becoming further interested and immersed in Margot’s life, Sibyl begins to use Margot’s life as the main source material for her novel, finally seeming to get the inspiration and ideas that she always wanted, and at times, it also reflects moments from her own life. But where will that lead her, Igor and Margot, as Sibyl also has a one night stand with Igor while trying to help them to focus on the film instead of being uncomfortable with each other? None of them are really happy as they try to move to the end of shooting schedule because the film has already been delayed enough for different reasons. Now one has to wonder if it is the movie or the novel that completes first, whether it is the releasing or publishing that will bring the people earlier – Sibyl and Mikaela would definitely want things to speed up.

The defence of Sibyl :: Here we have a complex movie which has elements that go deep into a person’s eventful mind. The main character, even though specialized in dealing with such minds, is not a strong enough person in herself. As the complicated psychologist, the confused writer, the lustful lover and the struggling mother, all of these going safe with the leading lady who plays the main character, the only thing that the movie and the rest of the characters need to do is to follow her. She has easily risen above the level of the whole movie itself, as she is as much natural as she is a complex personality. There are questions about relationships and professional life, as well as love and career, as people struggle to keep both going in the same pace. There are a few dramatic, emotional and romantic moments which stand apart, and we have other moments which come as a mixture of different feelings. The visuals of France are very good as expected.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Sibyl does drag right from the beginning. The slow pace comes on to pull it back a little bit, but we can go past it eventually. The beginning itself was not that great, and the interesting moments takes a little bit extra time to come on the screen. Adele Exarchopoulos who was part of Blue Is the Warmest Colour is also not used well enough in this movie, and she deserved a role close enough to having a similar interest as the main character here. The twenty six year old actress earned such international attention and critical appreciation for that role, that being in a drama movie like this one, she could achieve even more. Adele is indeed that kind of a performer, and she is forced into the shadow of the main character here. The film could have also had some more action in between, and we are left with needing even more.

Performers of the soul :: It is Virginie Efira’s performance that elevates this movie to another level, and we can be only glad that we could witness he same, as it has many sides to it – she plays a character having so many sides, and all of them are indeed interesting. The forty three year old actress brings both experience and style into this movie, and it has to be noted that she looks at least ten years younger in this movie, as there is a certain amount of youthful vivacity in her, and this enthusiasm catches our attention more than anything else. Playing a complicated character like this required quite some skills. Adele Exarchopoulos is more or less known for Blue Is the Warmest Colour, a movie which has been known for its controversy, but was appreciated more – yet, it has to be noted that she doesn’t have that much of a work to do here while Virginie scores highly with each and every moment she is on the screen. But she remains close to her character, and so does Gaspard Ulliel. The rest are just smaller parts of the movie’s proceedings.

How it finishes :: Unlike the other French movies which I have reviewed on this page, this is one film which provides us with the feeling that it is clearly not American or British – maybe, the French feeling is there throughout it, somewhat the same being already there in Portrait of a Lady on Fire which made us feel the same less because it was more or less historical drama. Sibyl is not the kind of movie that everyone would love to watch with a psychotherapist with a complicated past trying to write a novel in which the characters who are from real-life, and they also have some similar problems. There is also the question about the meaning of life being asked, as many events happen with hope not being the strongest thing. The movie makes an interesting slow journey through the lives of these people, who become more or less like the common people rather than the big complex personalities which they seem to be in the beginning, and the movie comes to a simple end.

Release date: 24th May 2019
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Justine Triet
Starring: Virginie Efira, Adele Exarchopoulos, Sandra Huller, Laure Calamy, Gaspard Ulliel, Niels Schneider, Paul Hamy, Arthur Harari

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Blackout

Vampire Owl: I usually have my own personal blackouts, and here we get one in a movie.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the movie deals with a more serious issue.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I know that it deals with aliens causing blackouts.

Vampire Bat: Indeed. But there should be more about than what we know.

Vampire Owl: We have known aliens very well, for there is nothing better than Alien.

Vampire Bat: We will always have more than one type of alien.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we will always have predator and the others.

Vampire Bat: There could be millions of types of alien species out there, and the movies come up with only a few.

Vampire Owl: I hope that this one will be an interesting one.

Vampire Bat: Russian movies have been doing something special every time, and so this one might also bring something like that.

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

What is the movie about? :: Something has gone seriously wrong with Planet Earth. Nobody is sure about what has happened, but there is a total blackout with all electronic equipment ceasing to work, and the communication with different part of the world is lost, except for a small circle in a part of Russia. All of the world’s major cities have fallen, and the troops which were sent outside the small circle do not usually come back either, and the survivors make the defence of the area strong by upgrading the existing forces and technology, while looking through the areas just outside the borders. But nothing gives them a clue about what has changed the world they knew, and what is happening now. There seems to be some strange forces at work outside, and many suspicions are there, including alien attack, demonic presence, humans with a weapon with they have not known about before, and many others. The religious groups all around the world feel that the end of the world is near.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There are terrifying sights of corpses everywhere, and it doesn’t seem to have stopped with anyone, except for one person whom they see, that manages to run through the bullets without being hit even once. The biggest problem is that they still have no idea what they are dealing with, and what kind of enemy is present on the other side. There is a man whom they see at times, a bald man who keeps covering his face, and seems to have some sinister motives, but disappears too soon for people to find him close enough. Who or what is destroying everything on Earth, seemingly attempting to end all traces of civilization and life? What has happened outside the area which has electricity? How long will the final outpost of mankind and the last hope for humanity survive against all odds? What can stop this unknown enemy who knows everything about the survivors, but nothing is known in return? Is surrendering to fate even an option for the remaining small number of people?

The defence of The Blackout :: The first thing that you notice about this particular movie is that it looks fantastic on the screen, in more than one way. We have a futuristic world with a nicely detailed future city, as well as the weapons being more high-tech than normal. The detailing in all of them are really good too. The background music is really good, and it gives us that feeling of some futuristic danger. The environment is also nicely created, and we have some fine fight scenes, all of them too good. The idea is also working really well, as this one goes beyond the usual style of terror from the paranormal and the supernatural, as Russian movies seem to do that quite often these days. There are lots of fight scenes going on here, and there is one scene which comes in the beginning, as all the soldiers and automated turrets are focusing only on one thing, the darkness – it is one intense sequence, and nothing which comes later in the movie matches that.

The claws of flaw :: The problems that we see with The are a few, one of them surely being its length, as it does have a little stretch in between with moments which were not needed. Then, the ending is also not that good, and we cannot approve of the final moments with the film’s idea of a hero being different from what we understand. The truth is that the characters which they fight in the end has better points to make, and those who pretend to be heroes or heroines have no idea about what is the best for the planet or about how to ensure human survival. We differ in opinion right there, and the female characters are rather forced into action here, and how they change all of a sudden become a little bit strange. There were also many ways in which the movie could have gone forward too. It seemed to be creating a certain amount of mythology involving a higher being, but it is not done in the best possible manner. There is always more to have with an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic movie, as we see the possibilities being endless.

Performers of the soul :: The characters were well established in the beginning, and bringing some fine performances, until in the end, they are everywhere. The two women Lukerya Ilyashenko and Svetlana Ivanova had their characters perfectly defined in the beginning, but as the movie progresses, they become some strange civilians, and in the end, they become not so much of that they were – both actresses are caught by the flaws in characterization. The main male actors Aleksey Chadov and Pyotr Fyodorov also have problems from the same, but they work really well until those last moments. Except for those last few moments, there is nothing much being lost in the acting department, because there is a flow which leads to that ending. Kseniya Kutepova is another solid female around here, as she leads her forces towards the possible victory against the impossible enemy. The non-human entities also have their moments with the performers being good.

How it finishes :: It is nice to be in contact with some Russian movies, which seem to be rising above Hollywood which is more or less depending on the same formula, even though not as much as Bollywood. Among such movies which don’t think about coming up with different ideas, this Russian film does seem to feel the need, and does manage to do things well enough. We all had our experience of lock-down and did hear about quarantine – this one does provide a similar kind of an effect even though for slightly different reasons. A little more care with the ending, and its ideology by the finish, would have surely made this movie very much closer to reaching the highest quality. But until then, The Blackout is there for some entertainment from the future, and it has those edge of the seat moments like some of those self-proclaimed fantastic action movies from Hollywood never really had. I would go for more of movies like this one.

Release date: 21st November 2019
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Egor Baranov
Starring: Elena Lyadova, Svetlana Ivanova, Pyotr Fyodorov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Aleksey Chadov, Kseniya Kutepova, Filipp Avdeev, Ilya Volkov, Artyom Tkachenko, Sergey Godin, Ksenia Kutepova, Anastasiya Venkova, Angelina Strechina, Aleksandr Nedorezov

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

9

What is the movie about? :: Dr Albert Lewis (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a very successful astrophysicist who have had a love for science since his childhood. He didn’t have that family life that he wanted though, as his wife Annie (Mamta Mohandas) died with childbirth, and his son Adam (Master Alok) is a known menace in the neighbourhood as well as school, leading to multiple change of educational institutions. As Adam was involved in another incident which left his cousin on a wheel chair, even the relatives are hostile to the boy. With Adam being expelled from his school in the middle of the term for another fight with a student, he gets an assignment from his mentor, a world famous scientist, Dr Inayat Khan (Prakash Raj). The idea is to watch, analyze and record the scene of a huge comet from the Himalayas, where it would bring a different scene altogether. With his team mates and Adam, he reaches the place, and stays at a remote guest house owned by his mentor.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It turns out that this comet is not your usual one. It produces an Electro Magnetic Pulse which would disrupt the modern day life – there would be no electricity, internet or mobile phone; modern day vehicles wouldn’t be able to provide transportation. It would be more or less like going back to nature, without having those facilities which people hold dear. There is panic all around, and Albert who reaches the seemingly Victorian-styled huest house makes sure that there are enough candles and lanterns. He also makes some adjustments to an older vehicle and makes sure that it works even though the usual transportation shuts down. As the shut down occurs, the sky turns red. Albert who is watching the amazing sight comes up again a stranger, Ava (Wamiqa Gabbi) who is lost in the woods. He takes her to the guest house, but there seems to be something special about her. She seems to be holding on to some secrets – what would they be?

The defence of 9 :: There are so many things being dealt with, in this movie which is a combination of genres. The horror in this movie is nicely done, and we have the same with a seemingly Victorian Gothic setting which has everything for a horror thriller. The supernatural, death and decay, ancient beliefs, unsolved mysteries, nightmares, hallucinations, large old building with only a few people, darkness, loneliness, fear – they are all there, and at the same time we wonder if some alien terror is going to be unleashed or if the world is going to end. The mystery element is also nicely made up, and it goes right through the movie. The darkness is the most beautiful thing in the movie, and you fall in love with night here. There is quality in how the setting has been used, with the beautiful as well as creepy visuals; the sound effects are also lovely. There are many Hollywood movies that comes to your mind, and also that same quality.

The claws of flaw :: The story here is not that easy to digest for everyman. It just puts too many things in here and also has an ending which is left open as well as unclear. It is also too long and has too many scenes with the apparition of one dead wife appearing, a case of terrible repetition which could have been avoided. The ending could have also been more direct – even though having multiple interpretations is not that bad, the horror feeling that was established earlier should have been allowed to continue to make an impact and leave the theatre with the audience. After all, the audience have gone through all these, and one of those interpretations just nullify the same. It is the supernatural of the movie that rises above everything else here, and the same should have taken full control and came to a conclusion in the end – well, when there is a chance to go full Gothic in a setting like this, I would take it.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj takes another divergence and another risk with this movie, but this doesn’t trouble him that much because he has been to such a situation before. He has played the protagonist looking for answers, who would be wandering through mystery and horror in different films. We have seen him in the dark flicks like Memories, Adam Joan7th Day and Ezra, making nice impact. The Hollywoodish feeling that he maintained even in last year’s Ranam and Koode are also to be remembered. Prakash Raj is just there for some time, and there is just him going through the long talk and no action. Mamta Mohandas is just there for the song with very short flashbacks and to keep coming back as apparitions in stylish clothing – there could have been more. Mamta is not someone who is to be restricted to that, as we feel that the flashback is more relevant than ever in this movie.

Further performers of the soul :: At the same time, Master Alok brings a fine performance as the child in trouble, and we see something that makes him right for the genre. Back after the much appreciated Godha, Wamiqa Gabbi is fantastic as the mysterious girl who turns out to be more than just a damsel in distress troubled by a piece of comet. There are fine moments which reflects the creepy side is a beautiful way, as she walks through the huge building as lights are turned off, staring outside from a bath-tub and coming up with a mysterious, creepy smile on more than one occasion. She seems to blend into the Gothic horror so well, and I will be glad to see her in a full-horror movie. You look here, and feel that she could be in something like Crimson Peak. Rahul Madhav and Adil Ibrahim are there in smaller roles, and we also see some unknown actors who are there for a short period of time leaving something nice behind.

How it finishes :: It can be seen that 9 goes through different genres at the same time. There is science fiction and the supernatural, as the movie is a psychological horror thriller with a scientific background. It is the first big movie to combine all these well, and one of the first movies to deal with some science fiction of such grand scale. There are questions that go unanswered with the same, and there are moments when we feel that the grip is lost – it could have surely been better, but as it is now, makes an interesting watch. 9 is surely an effort in the right direction, and we can hope to have more movies of the same kind after this. If a combination like this can have everything in the right quantity and quality, there is no limit to how good it can be. Until such a movie is made, we can go to the theatres and enjoy 9 this week.

Release date: 7th February 2019
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Jenuse Mohamed
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Prakash Raj, Wamiqa Gabbi, Mamta Mohandas, Master Alok, Tony Luke, Vishal Krishna, Rahul Madhav, Adil Ibrahim

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ghost in the Shell

Vampire Owl: Now my vision is clear. It was those ghosts. They did it!

Vampire Bat: What are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: The ghosts stole the seashells which I had collected and stored near the warehouse on the beach.

Vampire Bat: No, you can’t blame the ghosts or Lich Queen’s zombies on this one.

Vampire Owl: Does that mean I can blame the werewolves? Or the witches?

Vampire Bat: Why do you want to blame someone because you lost a few seashells which are not at all valuable to the realm?

Vampire Owl: Because it is quite natural for them to steal from us. I wouldn’t tolerate being made a fool.

Vampire Bat: I got the feeling that Vampire Raven threw it back into the sea which he was cleaning the area. He was assigned to the beach.

Vampire Owl: What? That evil black bird! I told you that he was evil! Not that much as Vampire Crocodile, but still…

Vampire Bat: Just watch this movie and see what the ghost here is all about.

[Gets three cups of Wayanad tea with Patanjali Doodh Biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A long way into the future, humanity has depended on science a lot, and has developed very much. There are a lot of enhancements available for the human body which involves the improvement of vision, hearing, strength, accuracy and intelligence, which are all available on the market for a price. In a godless world, it is science that decides every action of man, with more and more inventions coming up, and technology proving it to be endless in scope. It is that point of time when death by disease seems to be a difficult thing to happen as most parts of the body are replaced with ease. Hanka Robotics, which is world’s leading developer of human augmentative technology decides to take it one step further. In a world which has robots and Artificial Intelligence to do a lot of things, they come up with the idea to develop of a mechanical body termed as shell, that could integrate human brain and use it.

So, what happens next? :: Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), a champion at what she does, is chosen to do this job. She is someone who is known to have done wonders with her research, and is the easy choice here. Now, there is the question of a volunteer, and it comes as a result of terror. Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), a young lady who somehow survives a terrorist attack in which everyone in her family other than her is killed, is chosen to be the brain of the shell, with her body damaged in the attack beyond repair. It seems to work well, as the test subject awakens, and is able to talk and move without any problem. The CEO of the organization, Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) observes the progress which has been made with the shell and the resultant cyborg organism, and decides that this new creation should be used against terrorism as soon as possible. He considers her as their future, and their best hope against terrorists.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: After an year passes, Killian has become a Major in the anti-terrorist bureau Section Nine. Working along with the counter-terrorism operatives Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and Togusa (Chin Han) and under the command of Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano) she continues the hunt for terrorists, making amends for the death of her parents due to such an attack. Among those attacks which she and her partners have witnessed, there is one which looks rather strange, with robots going rogue for no reason and hacking into the mind of a Hanka employee. Even for the best of hackers, this seem unnatural, and she feels that there is something deeper regarding this. Despite the hallucinations that she keeps having, she decides to dive deep into the Artificial Intelligence of the robot, and there she finds an unknown entity, known only as Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt). But this entity is not human, or robot, or a hybrid – it is something that exists within. She needs to find more before time runs out.

The defence of Ghost in the Shell :: The action sequences are really good, and the visuals are a joy to watch; the movie is rich on the screen, and you can’t deny it at any moment – the world of the future is so nicely created that we keep looking at every detail carefully. Scarlett Johansson leads the way as the perfect choice for this protagonist. She seems to be doing what Mila Jovovich has been doing for Resident Evil and Kate Beckinsale has been working for Underworld. Looking so good, and removing all doubts about why she was cast in this role, she goes on to become the true ghost inside the shell – more than Black Widow in The Avengers and it’s sequel or those Captain America flicks. Along with her, the movie also has a tale which will have our attention very early. When the idea is also so good, we keep staring, and when every detail of the visual is that good, we just can’t stop admiring the awesomeness on the screen. Along with the same, the movie has its own twists; some people will come close to guessing the same, but it still counts as pretty good ones which adds to totality.

Positives and negatives :: Ghost in the Shell should feel a little short with how much it really has – there is the hundred percent need for a sequel as we wish to see Scarlett Johansson going through all the action again in a sequel which would take this away from its origin story mode where it is now. There will be shades of other movies, but everything in here is enhanced, and nothing dares to go a step down, which is the beauty of what we see here. I haven’t gone through the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow on which this is based, and that should be left for the fans – I would just watch this movie and enjoy how good it happens to be. A movie which entertains as well as brings something to think about is a glorious watch. It is also for us to think about who is right and who is wrong, and how correct is all that we are thought to believe in – maybe there is hope outside the thought process or maybe there is none at all.

How it finishes :: Ghost in the Shell can be considered as one of the best movies of the year, easily rising above big flicks of huge franchises like Alien Covenant and Wonder Woman, and the same is done in style. It also successfully provides a message against the human desire to look better and have an easier life – science has made all these easier, but is humanity good enough to negate the harmful effects of technology? Well, we are already slaves to technology, and so the answer might be no already. In future, it is clearly stated that wars will be fought on science and technology, and there will be terror. While hoping that such a day will never come, we also get a look at how mind finally takes over in the battle against all odds. Well, let the mind power win, and go on to watch this wonderful action thriller which has no moment which will want you turn back and exit.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, Peter Ferdinando, Danusia Samal, Kaori Momoi, Lasarus Ratuere, Anamaria Marinca, Michael Wincott, Yutaka Izumihara, Tawanda Manyimo, Daniel Henshall, Rila Fukushima, Pete Teo, Yuta Kazama, Chris Obi, Adwoa Aboah, Tricky

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chapter 32 Verse 23

32-23 (2)

***Full title in Malayalam: 32aam Adhyayam 23aam Vaakyam. Translated into English for convenience because of the length.

Vampire Owl :: I thought that you were going to watch something else.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, but I decided to promote Malayalam movies which are getting caught in the web of the movies in other languages. It is the responsibility of each and every Keralite to make sure that the Malayalam movies are saved.

Vampire Owl :: That sounds so awesome. What were you going to watch otherwise?

Vampire Bat :: It is what comes after ABCD.

Vampire Owl :: Okay, you mean EFGH.

Vampire Bat :: What? No, not all.

Vampire Owl :: Then is it IJKL or MNOP?

Vampire Bat :: No. What is wrong with you? It was ABCD 2!

Vampire Owl :: Well, in that case, I feel that this is an interesting decision.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, lets see.

[Starts the car].

What is it about? :: Ann (Mia George) is a journalist at Cochin and her husband Freddy (Govind Padmasoorya) who is working at the United States returns home only for a few days with a small break from work and expecting a promotion. They are celebrating their first wedding anniversary and gets a book as a present from a friend. As Freddy is having a lot of free time while Ann is at work, he starts reading that book and instantly begins to have a certain liking towards the work. He begins to imagine the life of the protagonist as his own, and it affects his personal life. Ann and their family friend Ravi (Lal) feels that he is somewhat losing his mind. But as he gets more interested in the incidents of the book and its number twenty three, he finds a few things from his past and will also uncover another mystery which has been unsolved for years.

The defence of 32aam Adhyayam 23aam Vaakyam :: The visuals are very good with this one. The movie explores the 23 enigma for the first time in Indian movies as far as most of us know, but there is still doubt it. As everything gets connected to the belief, this becomes one of those movies which tries to be different, and also choose to make an attempt on things which are not common in the Malayalam movie industry. The plot is good, and has scope. Still, it is an obvious risk, but a fair step in the right direction, and even if this might not work as much as expected, there is the hope for more of similar attempts. Also, you have to like how everything comes together as the movie gets near the end. The suspense is successfully maintained, and coming from a new team, this needs to be applauded. The songs are also pretty much okay and background score is nice.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t focus that much on the 23 enigma which was supposed to be the main point. Even the title of the movie itself is revealed to be relevant only in the end with the Holy Bible. The sequences which show the fiction from the book are quite bad. It was quite unnecessary, and one can guess what such things can be to audience if there is a chance to check how Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla turned out to be. It was like just adding to the drama in a ridiculous way instead of boosting the thriller side. There are moments when the movie also seems to struggle to make the point. There are no scares using the big number enigma and the first half struggles to get to the point. There could have been some horror elements added related the “number”. I haven’t watched the movie The Number 23, and so I won’t be the one talking to you about similarities and differences between the two flicks.

Performers of the soul :: Govind Padmasoorya manages to do his role well enough, except for those moments inside fiction where the same can’t be said. It was a world of disaster inside that imaginary world anyway. There is the need to expect nothing exceptional though. Mia George is very good here even though the focus was almost completely on the protagonist. The journalist role is something which seems to automatically suit her right from Memories despite the fact that there has been no movie based on media for her yet. Lal has a smaller role which he manages to do well in his usual style. The movie is basically around the leading actors, and so the contributions from the rest was always going to be less. But there is not much lost in the acting department.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s plot can be seen as an attempt for the protagonist to go through a novel and at the same time find his own past, with the support of incidents helped by fate. In the end, not only will the man have known the truth, but also would have become a better person. There is murder, but that which happened very long ago, and this movie would have worked even without that, because what matters more is a secret and also a belief which are searched and brought to light. This not about romance, and neither is it about a murder mystery. The story is about the mind rather than a sequence of thrilling events. It is sad that the same point is not really brought on the screen with its full energy, and it doesn’t make full connection with the audience as it was clear in the theatre. But the idea is the right one.

How it finishes :: 32aam Adhyayam 23aam Vaakyam could have been big if the idea was better transformed on the screen, but it isn’t. Still, the movie has enough to go on till the end as an okay thriller. The Malayalam movie industry has been regularly coming up with average or above average thrillers for quite a good amount of time, and it is time to move back up to the level of Drishyam and Memories. This year is struggling to have better Malayalam movies as a while despite the big success of Premam and the nice little wonder which was Mili. I would like to hear about something the Hollywood movie The Number 23 from anyone who has watched it. May be the makers could have chosen the number thirteen because it was a more accepted one. But for now, lets try and watch the variety with this movie and see what they have tried differently, can’t we?

Release date: 19th June 2015
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Arjun Prabhakar, Gokul Ramakrishnan
Starring: Govind Padmasoorya, Miya George, Lal, Arjun Nandakumar, Sunil Sukhada, Sasi Kalinga, P.Balachandran, Balachandran Chullikkad, Rahul Karthik, Sreejith Pokkan, Gowry, Sasha Gopinath, Sharan

32-23

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Enemy

enemy (2)

*The Soul Exploration paragraphs can have spoilers and therefore read wisely.

Vampire Owl :: I haven’t even heard about this movie.

Vampire Bat :: It is quite natural. It never came to our theatres.

Vampire Owl :: Then I need a DVD of this one. A movie that doesn’t come to our theatres is always worth a watch.

Vampire Bat :: I was going to recommend it to you, anyway.

Vampire Owl :: Everyone is creating one protest after the other. May be we should protest against the wrong movies being shown on the theatres.

Vampire Bat :: We shall call it the Hug of Movies.

Vampire Owl :: No Kiss of Movies? Okay, we will hug the movie DVDs of those movies which never had the chance to release here, and are so awesome.

Vampire Bat :: The change should start by not releasing some of those dumb movies just for the simple reason that they are too stupid for the human brain.

Vampire Owl :: I think you watched a Bollywood action movie in the last few days and is waiting to write a review on it.

Vampire Bat :: No, but I will leave you with a review of Enemy.

[Switches on the laptop].

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of Adam Bell and Anthony Saint Claire (both played by Jake Gyllenhaal), the first one being a history professor and the other being a small time actor, both looking exactly the same despite having no real connection or relation with each other. The former’s girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent) is troubled and worried as Adam finds this man who looks like him in a movie and is determined to discover more about him. He even searches and finds the man’s number to call him and talk to him about the same, and hopes to meet him one day as curiosity keeps building inside him. Anthony’s pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon) is also worried as a stranger who sounds like her husband calls home, and she is surprised as well as shocked by the similarities between the two, or the lack of any difference as she visits the university to see this man who looks the same. The men will one day meet in a hotel room only to bring further deviations in their lives.

Positives and Negatives :: The movie deals with the conflicts of the mind and leaves with a powerful message against adultery. It checks the extra-marital affairs and asserts that it is never too late to come back and be truthful to one’s partner. Here, it is shown as a situation of the mind which should be overcome within oneself rather than asking help from someone else, as long as one can. The atmosphere that the movie uses is perfect and how it shows everything is very powerful, even as not that effective for everyone as some might find is strange and not easily understandable, even coming up with too obvious explanations not doing justice to this movie’s twisted power. Even its slow progress, this is never the slowing down or the loss of power here, and I haven’t seem it happening like this so efficiently on so many occasions. There is a lot to think about in this case, that is for sure, and for the same, watching this movie becomes more necessary. I would recommend this to anybody who wishes to watch and give it a long, deep thought.

Performers of the soul :: Jake Gyllenhaal comes up with a stunning performance as two characters who look so much the same, but are yet different as themselves. He has to portray this doubleness which is less easier to do that most of the other roles that he has been doing, and one has to wonder if most people could have accomplished this with so much power. Even with his amazing work in the movie, what strikes the most though, is the extreme sadness and a terrible pain of the soul in the eyes of Sarah Gadon as she plays the character of the pregnant wife; an image that we cannot get out of our heads, especially because the movie never comes with a perfect explanation of things and our idea about all these is just what we can make out of it. But the tears on her face tells things and make everything more clear. Compared to them, Melanie Laurent does less, and mostly graces us with her beautiful presence.

Soul exploration 1: The choice of curiosity :: It is the curiosity that works both ways. Mark the words in the movie; “chaos is order yet undeciphered”. This curiosity had once made him to cheat on his wife, and has now forced him to think about himself. The transition from his wife to his girlfriend and then back to his wedding woes is because of the choice that he made – the curiosity that makes the protagonist search for the other person who looks like him is actually a search into his own mind which has to spots, one for his wife and the other for his girfriend, one with his desire to be an actor and the other with the reality of being a History professor – and he adjusts with the latter in the end, the thing that is actually him rather than what he wants to be just because of some obsession – something that can be equalled with his girlfriend too, all because of a second phase of curiosity.

Soul exploration 2: The fear of oneself :: The movie has two people who are basically one single person, and this manifestation of the other is just the one person that we see. Our potagonist is scared of himself, his other side which he wants to control, but is not within his power. Along with his fear of commitment, this fear about his other face troubles him throughout the movie, the result of which is reflected in him knowing about another person who looks and sounds like him and when he meets him, he is too scared. He knows that one of his faces is a mistake, and it is only in the end that he realizes that the right thing is to be with the wife rather than anybody else. This act of leaving his girlfriend – the extra-marital affair is portrayed as the death, both of his other side and the lover outside the marriage. Who is a man’s biggest enemy? He himself is, and it is the fear of that enemy that he conquers.

Soul exploration 3: The web of life :: The movie is about people caught in the webs of busy city life and hoping for a relief. There is repetition after repetition, and the images of giant spiders show this, especially the tarantulas which feed on the protagonist’s mind, and each big decision that he makes seems to have a spider, a negative thing. Even watching a movie is a first in his monotonous life. The web is actually as complicated as the life itself, and adultery becomes part of such a life. If another spider of adultery weaves a web in the life of the protagonist, it is up-to the wife and her love for the man that can crash it destroy those webs, saving him from the capture and the predator can no longer feed on him. The power of the webs created by the giant things need time to destroy, and the effort taken is also supposed to be enormous.

Release date: 8th September 2013
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Kedar Brown, Darryl Dinn, Stephen R. Hart, Jane Moffat, Joshua Peace, Tim Post, Misha Highstead, Megan Mane, Alexis Uiga

enemy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Extracted

extracted (6)

What is Extracted? :: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” — John Milton, Paradise Lost. Well, the mind creates not just heaven and hell, but a lot of other things. As long as the minds are concerned, the physical existence of hell and heaven can take a heavy toll. If the mind keeps you burning, you shall feel the inferno, and if the mind is going through peace, hell is not coming down. Yes, going to paradise, inferno or purgatory in the physical manner is to be left for life after death, but for what happens on Earth, it is all about the mind. This is the same reason why two people might experience the exact same thing in different manner. Each person is unique and so is the mind in every man. Extracted takes us into the mind of one man, where there are memories which keep playing, and there is this another man who is trapped right in there with no chance for an escape. So what are his memories and how does it work? Does the man escape from that world?

What is it about? :: It follows Tom (Sasha Roiz), who invents a machine which can help a person to enter the mind of another man and read his memories, or rather walk around in it (rather like walking around the dreams of a particular person in Inception, but this being more of a scientific device which reacts to instructions and keeps the person who just entered the memory walk through them as he wants to, unaffected by that world and not influencing anything in the mind). Our scientist is a good man, and wishes to use this in treating trauma and for other medical purposes. But once again, government becomes the temporary villain as they make him enter the mind of a suspected killer of a woman, Anthony (Dominic Bogart) with promises of money which he needs as well as a little threatening. But then the system refuses to log him off the mind of that man and his body is left motionless with his mind trapped in the memories of the murderer with nobody having any idea how to get him out. He keeps wandering in the memories until he starts trying to communicate with the owner of the memories.

The defence of Extracted :: Even without the use of that much of a budget, they have made this one interesting. There is absolutely no need for special effects of the highest quality to make a science fiction movie (listen Krrish 3, you never needed those horrible special effects which is not even fit to be called special, if you ever had a good story supported by fine acting). The graphics are kept at a simple level and the story is given the importance it deserves. There is not even a real villain, even as they do get into the mind of someone who is the bad guy. The scene when the infiltrator and the owner of the memory meet each other inside the mind in a fine point. The atmosphere they have created is not really that of a special effects aided fantasy with strange happenings, as the mind itself becomes just another reality with only two of them and of course the computer. There is no external or internal factor affecting the same, and that adds to the simplicity of the movie and way in which it progresses. These people are smart indeed.

Claws of flaw :: The memories doesn’t have anything special, as this is the mind of a man who is into drugs and a lot of illegal activities. His world is simple and often lacks details as the computer is forced to fill those areas with certain kind of fillers which dominates a good part of his memory. That would make the special effect lovers sad, as there is nothing to feel awesome out of this world. There are ambiguities, that is for sure, but of a very small kind. There are moments which could have been made better, and there was more scope for this movie in the way the narrative progresses, and the manner in which the whole situation is being built up. The simplicity is often the movie’s enemy, as the impression it creates stay within certain limits. If you are expecting a special effects marvel like The Matrix, an incredibly awesome looking creation like Inception or something as serene and yet powerful like The Cell, you are going to be disappointed. This one is a movie of this world and not anything else. There is almost nothing to take you to the highest levels of fantasy with visual awesomeness.

Performers of the soul :: The performances are surprisingly good, and it is one of the highlights of a movie which has been rather unknown. Sasha Roiz has done a great work in the movie, and if anything matches or betters that, it should be the performance of Dominic Bogart. While the former is more of a flat character, the latter is as dynamic as he can get, and moves on to the realization about himself not before thinking and coming into his own conclusions. The two female leads are also very good with the limited screen presence that they have, but they do have quite the emotional stuff to go through. If there was more character development in the case of the characters other than the owner of the mind, this could have been a great field for performances. There is nothing extraordinary out there, as everything remains so simple and believable. There is nothing of exaggeration even in a science fiction movie of complicated ideas, as there is a high chance for the same as we have seen in many such movies. These characters are done in a simple manner and the acting works in the right manner, even as most of us might not know any of these actors or actresses.

Soul exploration :: I wish to leave you with a few lines from a song in the Malayalam movie Memories: “Time flows like a river running wild, my mind’s swimming, swimming like a child, I watch the yesterdays go by, like moving patterns in the sky, memories never die”. The movie has a protagonist who is a drunkard living in the memories of his wife and daughter who were killed by a criminal, and he is as much caught in those memories as our hero here. Yes, that was an investigative thriller in which he gets out of them to solve a mystery, but here, we have a device and science fiction. We are all slaves to the past, and memories are all that he have, but when the memories are not ours, there comes the surprise, and just like Inception and The Cell, Extracted also sends someone into the mind of another person. I would recommend that song by the way, as its lines “I take a train into the past” and “Trapped in the desert of my mind” with the way in which it is sung and the scenes are shown in brilliant – it is that which comes to my mind when I watch this movie.

How it finishes :: Extracted is worth a watch if you liked Inception and The Cell, or may be even The Matrix. If there needs to be the reminder of another title, that would be Source Code. Be careful about expecting something spectacular, but expect something simple instead. I would compare this one more to The Cell rather than any other movie, and this is a lower budget version of such movies, taken in the right manner so that it can make an impression without too much quality. Its final plot twist is rather not that impressive, and the ending is adjusted than rather created with full power. It could have tried a little bit harder, and then it could have come up better. Whether you like it or not, we have to appreciate the efforts they have done to create so much out of a low budget movie without losing out. The movie proves that memory can be simple, and yet valuable, and there is no need for blue aliens or space station or inter-planetary travel to make a good science fiction movie. The ideas of The Matrix, Inception and The Cell can be further used, and none of them are finished. Even as budget matters, it is the attitude that matters more. In the end, there is that fine work which might not stay in our memories forever!

Release date: 10th March 2012
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Nir Paniry
Starring: Sasha Roiz, Dominic Bogart, Jenny Mollen, Frank Ashmore, Nick Jameson, Richard Riehle, Sara Tomko, Brad Culver, Richard Riehle, Rodney Eastman, Augie Duke

exxtracted copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.