Now You See Me 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Gets three cups of tea with banana chips].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lucy

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Vampire Owl :: Cruel people here. How can they delay a Scarlett Johansson movie so much?

Vampire Bat :: May be the Indian censor board was busy. They have been concentrating on chopping things off from Finding Fanny. Even the dialogue that one is a virgin is to be cut off.

Vampire Owl :: So they were having a tough time with Lucy? But it is still given that “A” certificate.

Vampire Bat :: The censor board is making sure that we end up watching adult movies which have children’s content, so that we realize that we have grown up so much.

Vampire Owl :: But people will still think that we watch only adult movies.

Vampire Bat :: I would think that even Home Alone and Baby’s Day Out will be rated “A” if released these days.

Vampire Owl :: They are violent movies. The poor adult robbers and kidnappers are mistreated by kids. It sets a bad example for the new generation. They will not just give an “A”, they will just ban them.

Vampire Bat :: There is a conservative world coming up. I thought they would have at least found “being virgin” as a good thing.

Vampire Owl :: This is why I drop ice buckets at people.

Vampire Bat :: Can we just proceed for that adult movie?

[Goes to the ticket counter].

What is it about? :: Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is studying and enjoying her life in Chinese Taipei, but she is tricked into working as a drug smuggler by her new boyfriend. But she is captured and a bag of drugs is put in her her abdomen so that she can carry them back home for the drug mafia. But while in captivity, a lot of drugs are released into her system as she is kicked again and again by her captors. As a result, she has improved mental abilities including mind reading, brain control, telepathy, telekinesis and many others, but the indirect result of the same being a possible death in hours. She gets the bag removed from inside her, and contacts the expert Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) to know what is there for herself and the future of mankind. As time passes, she gets more and more powerful, and easily go through the drug mafia and gets their drug carriers captured. The mafia as well as the police are too weak in front of her, and the question remains for whom she is going to be beneficial and to whom she will turn out to be catastrophic.

The defence of Lucy :: Along with Scarlett Johansson’s wonderful performance as the protagonist, the movie can boast about taking that idea which is more of a myth and developing into something big. It has nice special effects and good, controlled action sequences which are taking in a more stylish manner – the whole thing is visually very good, and one has to admit that if the willing suspension of disbelief is rightly implemented and considered as a whole, there is not just a lot of fun, but there is also something for the intellect as it does keep the audience thinking within its own universe. It is difficult not to like Lucy, and no matter how hard you try, that option just isn’t there, unless you are short of the capacity to understand and follow – now that will make you not so human, right? There will always be people who fails to understand, and it is mostly with the bloody audience coming in groups and talking rubbish throughout the movie. It is surprising that they would go on to talk through the slide which tells them not to talk and disturb the movie experience for others.

The claws of flaw :: There is no huge action sequence which has our heroine transforming into the Black Widow and go Avenger on everyone. Except for some gunshots between the mafia and the police, the rest of the action remains of the mind. The movie’s idea of the ten percent of the human brain being used is rather weak in the circumstances, as without it and the supporting clips, the movie could have gone on losing nothing in the process. It is also too short, lasting almost one and half hours and nothing more than that unless you include the advertisements (look out for the awesome Dracula Untold trailer that comes before this if it does). There could have been more time taken here for the finish, and the possibilites of such immense mind power should have been further explored – but this one chooses to be short, but due to the same, drags nowhere. The violence is there, not much, but can be considered unnecessary by a few. The movie also needs the viewers who can use some part of brain when needed, and even in the multiplexes, it is difficult to find such people – they all want mindless action making no sense, right?

Performers of the soul :: Lucy is pure Scarlett Johansson show of the highest quality in a character which brings no challenge to her, and due to the same, she seems to blend effortlessly into that character which reminds the viewer of two others, Carrie White and Jean Grey who possessed similar powers. But Lucy is different because her powers are not part of her, and is causing her own destruction – Scarlett Johansson scores there, as you see her transformation from the victim to the all-powerful entity and also with those emotional elements. Known more for being the gorgeous one and among the sexier women alive, she comes up with an all-round performance here along with looking good. There was Natasha Romanoff a.k.a Black Widow, but this one is all-round all powerful. Morgan Freeman also comes in with an avatar that we can easily identify him with – a man of great knowledge and wisdom, who can be a guide as well as the one who deals with the explanations nicely. Choi Min-sik as Mr. Jang is a nice villain, and Amr Waked is good.

Soul exploration :: Scarlett Johansson needs a movie on Black Widow, and it is crystal clear that she can handle it, as she proves the same with Lucy. Yes, the movie is highly dependant on her, and what Angelina Jolie did for Maleficent, she is doing here. She takes full control of things, and one has to admit that this is a lot better than what Jolie came up with in that twisted fairy tale there. With the only other well known actor being Morgan Freeman, the movie was totally dependant on our superstar lady. It reminds us of Transcendence with its idea about that all powerful person who turns into something beyond human comprehension, and Morgan Freeman was the scientist Joseph Tagger there too. Then the movie is also a bit Carrie, with the central character, the lady getting immense mental capabilities beyond anyone’s comprehension. But this one is a lot faster and smarter than the former, and also quicker and with more happenings than the latter. Our heroine is also Jean Grey, but not being the mutant who is blessed wth powers.

How it finishes :: Lucy comes late to India, but it was never as much a much awaited movie as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which might release on this Friday here, but knowing what delayed Hercules, we can’t be sure yet. Lucy has a much silent sojourn here as not many people knows that it is present in the theatres with less number of shows. It should still enjoy limited success, as it doesn’t go on the Transcendence path and bore us beyond the limits of all kinds of boredom, and at the same time, it has Scarlett Johansson. It is still caught in a competition with The Expendables 3, and the shadows of Guardians of the Galaxy and Hercules, as it runs through the course. For those who wishes to watch a nice Hollywood movie which has its own identity, and even in its comparisons with many other movies, could stay different, there is always Lucy. There was always Carrie, and now there is Lucy, coming up with some improved mental capabilities, being another version of that mutated Jean Grey without the X-Men or any superpowered creature around.

Release date: 22nd August 2014 (India); 25th July 2014 (US)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, Choi Min-sik, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Phongpheth

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Lego Movie

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The Lego animation :: We all know Lego bricks, don’t we? Those interlocking plastic brick-like things were part of our childhood, and most of us did build a lot of things with them – one of our first teachers of creativity and imagination. Even as they came in many colours, the one I remember the most is blue, and I wonder how that comes to mind often; may be I broke most of the pieces of other colour, who knows? I had them strong until Hasbro came into my life with G.I. Joe. Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes and Daestro took over at that time. But where did my Lego go? I have to admit that I no longer knew anything about it, and I guess it passed on to my younger cousin brothers and sisters, and I had completely forgotten about the same until I came across the trailer of this movie; yes the Lego people were back, stronger than ever, and they had Batman and Wonder Woman for support. The toys had win hearts, and this was the time of the movies – lets see how they fare.

What is it about? :: Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) is a wizard and one of the master-builders of the Lego universe, but he fails to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from taking over a superweapon Kragle. He still tells the villain about the prophecy about a special person who will stop his villainy. Years later, an ordinary construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) accidently finds “Piece of Resistance” which can stop Lord Business. As Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) captures him, he is rescued by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who takes him to another world where Vitruvius lives. As the wizard tries to make him imagine and create something like a master-builder, they find out that his creativity is zero, and he needs an instruction manual to create anything. The other master-builders, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Dumbledore, Shakespeare, Gandalf, Dracula, Green Lantern, Pirate Metal Beard and rest of the team are very much unimpressed by him as he makes a hopeless speech and shows his lack of creativity. But as time is less, they have to work together to find a way to stop the Lord before using the weapon. Can they do it?

The defence of The Lego Movie :: This is one of the funniest animated movies of the decade. even as one might wonder if Lego qualifies as animation. Their use of superhero characters is hilarious, and how they managed to bring them into the story is very nice, especially Batman. There is Batman saying “I only work in black. And sometimes, very, very dark gray” and Superman saying “I super hate you” to the Green Lantern. The Wonder Woman is not left behind in fun either, and Metal Beard jumps in like Blackbeard might have did. Uni-Kitty’s attempts to be happy and positive is another thing to watch out for. Even Abraham Lincoln and Michelangelo joins. There are dialogues like “Come with me if you want to not die” parodying The Terminator. I would still prefer Frozen any day, that is for sure. It is nice how a few other worlds are added to the original city of Lord Business, involving Wild West as well as Castles and Dragons settings.

The claws of flaw :: The 3D was totally unnecessary, not only is it ineffective, but it doesn’t suit this kind of toyline animation. It worked well with movies like Frozen and a good number of such titles, but when used with this, it is not effective, in my opinion. There could have also been an even better use of these characters, with our vampire guy and the Shakespeare guy given a better due. I didn’t like the way in which its central theme was exaggerated again and again, even as it was nice in the beginning. This is also too much of a common story, about a normal guy trying to save the world, even as the superheroes fails to do the same – for the same, the movie preaches a lot, and keeps saying that everyone is so special and shouldn’t go according to the rules. Looking at a whole world made of Lego looks fresh in the beginning, but keeps losing its charm. Its connection with the real world is interesting, but is still too weird or rather a little too unnecessary, but that worked, no doubt about it.

How it works :: There might be the usual misconception that a movie which shows so much of a toy-line can’t be that good. Now, that might still be valid even after the success of this movie. A major question might be about what they can come up with such a toyline which is all about construction; what can one bring out of Simcity? But here is the idea that changed that thought. Here is something that rivals the over-hyped animated movies like Brave. The voices are nice, and other than the two main characters, there is some really interesting stuff from Liam Neeson as Bad Cop/Good Cop with that split personality, and Alison Brie as Uni-Kitty. Will Ferrell as Lord Business is another nice villain performance, just like he did with the voice in Megamind. Channing Tatum has a very short time as Superman, but that’s pretty nice too. Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius even comes back as a ghost, and that was a nice surprise. All the voice actors seem to become the character they were embodying.

Soul exploration :: The movie tells that everyone is special and there is the need to nurture the imaginations and show creativity rather than just follow the instructions. It comes up with he idea that almost anyone can make a difference, no matter how much immature or inexperienced that person is. Now, that sounds nice, but when it is completely against that order which works against chaos, there is a little bit loss of trust. It fails to set a limit to that imagination, and it is only in a perfect world under the best circumstances that such things can happen in the right way. Otherwise, instructions can always be helpful, no matter how much they are hated or opposed to prevent people from following them. The movie also doesn’t really come up on top when thinking about being special or adding more imagination, as it could have definitely used more as it neared the end. The end doesn’t justify the nice beginning, as there is the ordinary stuff that fills the finish.

How it finishes :: As we can see from the reviews all around, The Lego Movie finishes strong in the theatre. We should wait very long to meet someone who didn’t like this movie. As an animated movie, it is difficult to find errors from this movie, and almost everyone who have ever played with a Lego toy will like this one a lot, and this one also mostly applies to the rest. From what the year has to offer, this might be the best animated movie of the year. It surely has a colder reception here though, as there are not many screens showing the movie, and the maximum of about three shows or something among so many theatres and multiplexes, with not many viewers either. But it is indeed going on to become a global success, and it can surely stay in the top grossing movies of the year for some time. I can only be glad that this didn’t become one of those movies which didn’t release here, as there are so many movies of other languages which have occupied the screen at this time.

Release date: 7th February 2014
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring (voice): Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

White House Down

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So here is the fight we have been talking about for a long time, as the 120 minute long Olympus Has Fallen has finally met its archenemy, its evil twin brother who is longer by 17 minutes. The ruler of the underworld compared to the shorter one’s claim over Mount Olympus, has arrived in the form of White House Down. As I had already written about Olympus Has Fallen (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/olympus-has-fallen/), and it was the first one to be released, it is that movie which I would consider the prototype for the list of White House attacking movies which can get a little longer as long as this one is not annihilated in a battle here against the opponents RED 2 and Turbo, along with already existing Pacific Rim and Man of Steel; not to forget the movies in all those languages including Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi. The former had no tough competition when it was released though, with a few weeks delay after the United States release. The delay has followed this movie too, along with the image of white building going down and only one man standing as a barrier in front of the ultimate success of the terrorists. It had fallen earlier, and now it is down, and there is no doubt about the fact that the first of the two had the best title, but the second has got the name which can connect better with the audience and stays close to action.

So the seat of the President of the United States of America needs to be saved again. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) was the former secret service agent in our last adventure of this type and here, John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a U.S. Capitol Police officer looking to be part of the secret service. John already has trouble connecting with his daughter Emily (Joey King), and believes that he can impress her by getting a job with the Secret Service and also by taking her to the place, but fails in the interview is conducted by Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a former college acquaintance of his who knew him to be disrespectful to the authority and irresponsible, unable to stick to what he is doing and thus not good enough for the job. He tells Emily that there is still chance and they join with a tour group around the White House. Soon, there is a bomb explosion which separates the father and daughter, followed by a group of armed mercenaries taking control of the White House. The President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) is in trouble, and we know that his only hope is the man who was refused his chance to be the saviour once, and the action begins in a few minutes. The situation is pretty much similar to Olympus Has Fallen, as one might have figured it out by now.

That fictional protagonist portrayed by Bruce Willis in Die Hard, John McClane doesn’t really seem to leave this world of the one-man shows, as here comes another one of too similar a name, John Cale – what he does is no different either. McClane’s marriage and the relationship with his children in a constant state of crisis, and his disregard for authority keeps him close enough to trouble – not the kind of things Cale can disagree with. Here, we have the typical Die Hard protagonist who is just at the wrong place at the wrong time, and continues to be there so that he can save the day with almost no outside support at all. Being the lone wolf who is the right person to do it, the two Johns are one and the same, and if this new John is a cheap imitation of the old, that is for the audience to decide. Strangely enough, Channing Tatum has to battle Bruce Willis in the multiplexes here for the supreme position, as RED 2 is surely attracting enough people, and the elder legend is surely the more popular and the more talked about figure in this part of the world. It is louder and less interesting than the first four Die Hard movies most of the time, but it is better than the fifth movie of the series by a long distance. This could have been Die Hard 5, if Olympus Has Fallen can’t be the same, and even if that position is abdicated, there is always the chance to call itself Die Hard 6.

6.5 out of 10 in IMDb and 48% rating in Rotten Tomatoes for Olympus Has Fallen, and 6.3 out of 10 in IMDb and 48% rating in Rotten Tomatoes for this one clearly describe these two movies, and gives a vague report about how close their impact has been, and how much such a theme can affect the audience and the critics. It is a good thing that they are three weeks apart in their attack on the brains of the viewers, as they could have even destroyed one another if released close enough. Gerard Butler’s 300 + Gamer effect would surely give the former an advantage, but Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman would not stand a chance against the invisible fan club of Jamie Foxx which is bigger than it would seem to be from the surface, thanks to that strange effect which Django Unchained had created. This is how these movies come so close to being the same on impact. But our new movie seems to be struggling to fight against this week’s wave as well as the existing waves. There are less number of shows, and there is the need for a twist of fate for this one to bring the fight of money to its twin brother. But it has already proved that fight is on, even as victory is not within sight; the battle shall go on even as the causalities won’t be that interesting for this side.

This is closer than the similarities between the volcanic eruption related Volcano and Dante’s Peak, and the Earth-bound asteroids showing their power in Deep Impact and Armageddon. Even as Gerard Butler wins the battle as the hero and gets all the attraction, Channing Tatum does a great job in this one, but the movie remains lesser than him and Jamie Foxx. The two actors are undoubtedly bigger than the movie as they do defy the movie in what they do and so does the whole world inside the movie in one way or the other. The whole scenario might be stranger in this movie, but Foxx handles it so well that even the situations which seems to be going the wrong way turns out to be funny and interesting – those moments when Olympus Has Fallen takes the back seat. But there is still too much about his character, and there is too much of a strange ruler in the person, may be being closer to Django than the President of the United States. But people do love that kind of a President in the movies, that is for sure. Joey King’s character is cute and interesting most of the time, but annoying at times; there is no controlled environment out there and in the middle of such a hostage situation, that should be more than just agreeable, for kids no longer remain kids these days, and Lord of the Flies was never belonging that much to fiction.

Jason Clarke does manage to make a powerful impact at the same time, and being the stylish evil guy who takes over the place, he comes with some very good fight sequences with the hero. His presence would seem to extend the world from beyond the two-man show. James Woods works his villainy as the mastermind behind all these next. This movie also loses in violence, something which was not expected in the beginning, as right from the bomb explosion, something nasty was expected to come up, but it goes on more as destruction for the sake of demolishing rather than creating that impact of shock in the senses. There is no shortage of action sequences though, and the attempt to escape with a presidential limousine, the fall of the airplane and helicopters and tank v/s rocket launcher battle, they all make the destruction list go high. With the former Duke from G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Django of Django Unchained has held this one from falling deep, but its success in its genre won’t reflect in its box-office collection. That episode of the life of this movie is with the audience and until now, from what can be read, there is trouble for this one in catching up-to Olympus Has Fallen, or even most of the much expected movies of this season. These are bleak times indeed, but this movie has wasted its chance and therefore, blaming the audience or other movies is not the thing – a little adjustment might have saved this one as it is a good addition to its genre.

The movie lacks in a number of things compared to Olympus Has Fallen, as the most important thing is patriotism, and the next but almost equally important thing may be in being clever – there has been more silliness in this one, but there has still been enough control between the two sides of mindless action and saving the world. Emmerich’s works have been interesting, from Independence Day to The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 and my personal favourite, The Patriot. But he had to deal with being there second, and that would have been difficult. To add to it, the movie’s need to match up with the other White House take-over would have created a situation from where there is no escape. This movie is thus a wasted opportunity on one side, and a work which could live even with all its flaws on the other hand. It is on this dual nature that this movie can work on, but that won’t help its cause. It needed something special, and it has managed to achieve the same only through its leading actors, but even in their case, this is not their best performances. When White House Down looks up from its world deep down the underground, Olympus Has Fallen might be looking from the top of the Mount Olympus which it had created from its success at the box-office, and in the OHF v/s WHD battle, the war of the down-fallen houses, we have only one winner, and its name starts with O.

Release date: 19th July 2013 (India); 28th June 2013 (United States)
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Michael Murphy, Joey King, Rachelle Lefevre, Nicolas Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Lance Reddick, Barbara Williams

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Dark Knight Rises

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The one thing I am certain about this movie is that it is the one I have waited eagerly in 2012, and what I might differ in opinion with a few is that this is not among the best movies of the year. There is another element in which I would agree on, and it is that this is not the best of the series, and where I disagree is at the level of quality of each movie of the Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, with my favourites going in the same path as the timeline, as Batman Begins is my favourite, followed by The Dark Knight and this one, both separated by not much. But I wouldn’t do that without reasons. Ra’s al Ghul v/s Joker v/s Bane is a battle which has a clear winner for many, but The first one is a villain with something special, a big idea. But Batman Begins succeeds in its story, and the Scarecrow is a better villain than Two Face for sure. Both the Two Face and Bane were not used to their potential, and this is where the first movie of the series scores, as it built this triology out of nowhere, with nothing to support it at a time when Spider-Man and X-Men had the status of being the better loved heroes around here.

Without Batman Begins, there is no dark knight, a term which became incredibly popular and was even used with Novak Djokovic, not that much of an expected winner caught between the rivalry between Rafael Nadal who had clay in his pocket at that time, and Roger Federer who ruled the rest of the clay-less world. Therefore, it is just natural to pay the due respect to that movie which started them all. The Dark Knight had all its fame and glory only due to what the beginning had given its viewers, and I have to admit that I didn’t realize that the first time. But as long as the long list of origin stories are concerned, from X-Men Origins to the recently released Man of Steel, Batman Begins has a high place. The Dark Knight Rises continues that legacy which was handed over to it by the more critically acclaimed and more hyped second movie, and has completed the trilogy in style. The problem which this movie has to face is the long trail of near-perfection in the superhero genre that its predecessors had left for this one, and the same thing is both the good thing and the bad thing for this movie; for this one could improve on box-office, as it went on to overtake its predecessors and become the eighth highest grossing movie of all time grossing over a billion United States dollars. But it is to be noted that unlike its predecessors, the film was not nominated for any Academy Awards.

Eight years have passed after Harvey Dent’s death and the covering of the existence of the Two Face. The organized crime has almost been wiped out completely. Feeling guilty for covering up Dent’s crimes and framing Batman for the same, Gotham City’s Police Commissioner James Gordon writes a resignation speech which revealed the truth concerning the two, but decides not to use it at the last moment. Batman has disappeared and Bruce Wayne has kept himself away from all the action. It is at this moment that a burglar Selina Kyle appears, known to most of the fans as the Cat Woman. Bane’s appearance is the other major thing which changes the scenario, as he intends to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s mission to destroy Gotham City and thus fulfill the aim of the League of Shadows. He punishes Batman and breaks his back, and then puts him in a prison from where escape is almost impossible. The fellow prisoners tell him the story of Ra’s al Ghul’s child, born in the prison and cared for by a fellow prisoner before escaping, the only prisoner to have ever done so – Batman assumes the child to be Bane, and his actions the revenge for what Batman did to his father.

Meanwhile, Bane traps Gotham police underground and destroys all the exits. He converts Bruce’s own reactor core into a nuclear bomb and uses the bomb to hold the city hostage and isolate Gotham from the rest of the world. Using Gordon’s speech which he had stolen, Bane reveals the cover-up of Dent’s crimes telling the people that the whole police action and passed laws based on Dent’s act was a lie and releases the prisoners from different jails. There is a kind of revolution and the wealthy and powerful have their money and property taken away, are dragged from their homes, and forced to trials presided over by Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a the Scarecrow, where any sentence means death on most occasions and otherwise exile. After months of recovery and training both the body and the mind to face Bane, Batman manages to escape the prison and reach Gotham City, and enlist the help of Cat Woman and the others. But with a pseudo-revolution on the run, and all the criminals on the streets with no police force to stop them, Batman has more than what he would wish for this time. It is up-to him to stop the man who broke his back with relative ease, and to prevent whatever Ra’s al Ghul had intended to do.

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne a.k.a Batman continues his conquests, and here his performance is lowered only due to the absence of a villain who was as good as those in the first two movies, and there is no intellectually superior mastermind who decides who lives and who dies, and there is no wretched of the soul who is half Loki and half Lucifer, made with everything evil and everything psychotic. Instead he has a militant who is more of a physical threat than mental. Unfortunately, his thoughts and decisions are not his alone and himself outsmarting Batman was not something for which he could take credit, and at that point, he loses his significance and still not his presence and power. Still, Tom Hardy’s Bane is excellent in what he does. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle a.k.a Cat Woman becomes a revelation in the movie, and it is evident that she has trained extremely tried and tried her best to fit into that costume which so much physically demanding. Marion Cotillard outshines herself in the second half, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake comes up with a pleasant performance. Michael Caine and Gary Oldman plays the two normal characters in the movie who makes any impact.

Christopher Nolan did make Inception just a few years before this with that touch of brilliance, it was what stood between the two sequels; it was something which further accelerated the expectations. Here, we get some of it, and considering the fact that Batman has undergone evolution and there is no real base for the same, and there is no end to this superhero, we have to respect this title despite of the hype. It has done all that it could do, but it did nothing spectacular, and yet, this is very well done. It was a good decision to continue the Ra’s al Ghul legacy, and it was hundred percent a good decision not to make this in the 3D – full marks to that. There are movies that are to be enjoyed for fun, and even with all the entertaining elements in this movie, it scores slightly higher at the intellectual level rather than how it is supposed to happen in a regular superhero movie. The movie also leaves open slots, not just for a sequel, but also for a Cat Woman and a Robin spin-off as well as Justice League of America movie, in the model of The Avengers. It is certain that we haven’t seen even a little bit of what the DC’s cinematic universe has to offer its viewers. There is a lot coming, that is for sure with this one being the third highest grossing film of 2012 and also the third highest grossing superhero film of all time.

There is no doubt that the caped crusader has grown enough to lead the Mount Olympus of superheroes as the Zeus of this generation, with his biggest arch-rival Superman failing to live up-to the hype, and his next best rival Spider-Man slowly fading from the scene – both of them coming up with below-the-bat reboots which fails to challenge the Man-Bat. These three are challenged not by those superheroes of childhood, The Phantom and He-Man, but by the man they call Iron Man and his gang of Avengers, as well as X-Men, but they all follow a different path. The world’s greatest detective with the Bat logo has nothing to worry about his position right now, but in case of a reboot, it is all upto him to lose, as the rest have only gotten better. The concept of billionaire playboy, industrialist, and philanthropist itself already has been challenged by Iron Man, and with Man of Steel all the dark elements; The Amazing Spiderman has conquered the heroic elements, and whenever the abilities are glorified, there was X-Men First Class, with Wolverine to follow this year. Therefore, this domination of the dark knight is in a precarious position, and as this end to the trilogy was not as perfect as expected, there is surely a storm coming, and it would consist of more than one superhero. The only fear that I have is that can the Batman remain Batman for long, or will he be completely transformed into the dark knight, and Superman into the man of steel? It is that question which will be answered in a decade.

Release date: 20th July 2012
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Now You See Me

Nowyouseeme (7)

There has always been something special about magic, going as far as the wizards and sorcery, often even into necromancy summoning the apparitions or even the living corpses from the grave. That should be black magic or witchcraft, and Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus had the hero ending up giving his soul for it in not that romantic a way as in the movie Bedazzled. One can’t really abandon Goethe’s Faust in that case. But this movie has none of these deals with Mephistopheles, Lucifer, or Belzebub, and neither does it have walking dead, nor does it lead you to Hogwarts or to Narnia as the lord of a particular, incredibly powerful ring which will change your life in that fairy tale style. This is magic purely of this world, and connected to a crime as an engaging, powerful thriller. Magic has always been a thing arousing curiosity among the common cats of the world, but none of them stays killed or dead as part of it. Magic shows still have some of its essence which still affects the minds of the common man over his mundane existence, for being able to manipulate and create illusions still have that mysterious charm for the unexplained, no matter how much science and technology and the reason has improved. One needs to see how this movie has managed to do nothing special and still manages to be special!

But it is not yet a magic movie, or something which takes you to a magical environment like Harry Potter, Narnia or Lord of the Rings, and there are no goblins, hobbits, dwarves or elves, and this one is the story of tricks, illusions and deception, which doesn’t really make it of lesser quality. This is more of that magic which is closer to reality and the real world, and it is a caper movie – a crime fiction supported by magic; and it is Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen all of them explored with the support of magic provided in the right manner. If you loved Tower Heist and Entrapment, there is no option not to like this one, as there are the additions which you can’t reject. The focus of the story is still magic, and the four magicians who performs it not for money or for entertainment, but for a greater cause. There are thefts, and there are police, FBI and even Interpol involved in this heist movie, but what forms the base of all this is still magic, not as the fantasy and the mythological wonder that attracts the generations starting from kids, this one is more of that thriller which keeps you at the edge of your seats. The world of these magicians are more than what meets the eye, and therefore you see me at one moment and then you don’t, and for now you watch what is justified by the title Now You See Me!

We have to start by introducing our wonderful protagonists of deception; the four magicians—Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) the illusionist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) the escape artist and former assistant of Daniel, Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) the street magician and master thief along with Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) the mentalist specialized in mind-reading abilities —are brought together by a mysterious benefactor who is shown only as a man in a hood and, one year later, they have a performance in Las Vegas identifying themselves as “The Four Horsemen” and is sponsored by a billionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). During their first grand performance, the magicians invite a random member of the audience to help them in their next trick which is the first of its kind to be ever performed on stage, that is robbing a bank. The man is teleported to his bank in Paris, where he activates an airduct which vacuums up the money which brough down from the top onto their audience in the venue at Las Vegas. It is a bank in Paris that they are supposed to have robbed, and how they have done that to an institution in France from a location in the United States would remain a mystery to many.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) investigates the theft and is unwillingly partnered with Interpol Agent Alma Vargas (Melanie Laurent). They interrogate the Four Horsemen, but are forced to release them when no explanation for the theft can be found other than magic. The magicianis even taunt them and says that if they charge them as criminals, it means that their magic is real and that adds to their popularity. Dylan then meets a man who was present during the show and had video-taped the whole thing, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). He is known to be an former magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians’ tricks and have his fun with it. He tells them that the magicians had stolen the money long ago, and manipulated the audience as well as the police with their tricks and illusions into believing it happened at the moment of their show. He even shows a sample to Dylan after they have a look at the “site of the crime and the magic show”. He adds that the whole thing might have planned for months or even years and the group is up to something big and what was seen in Las Vegas was just the first of the samples.

The three of them attend the magicians’ next performance which is in New Orleans during the festival of Mardi Gras. The group’s manages a number of magic tricks including disappearing acts, floating in a bubble and even predicting the bank accounts of random people among the audience. Their last item involved them emptying their own sponsor’s bank account and distributing it to the audience, which had a good number of people whose insurance claims had been denied or reduced by Tressler’s insurance company in the name of a variety of reasons. The agents make an attempt to arrest the magicians, but they fails and even humiliates themselves, and becomes the breaking news in most of the television channels. Arthur hires Thaddeus to expose the fake tricks of the magicians and humiliate them before the public as revenge. Later, while researching on magic and the history of the world of illusions, Alma comes across the information about a secret society of magicians called “The Eye”, which exists unknown to the contemporary society of common man, and remains a myth. But if such a thing existed, the robberies were more of a test or initiation. She even suggests that the case might be connected to a magician whom Thaddeus had earlier exposed; the man was so embarrassed and depressed that he attempted a dangerous underwater stunt to prove his worth and drowned. Meanwhile, the Four Horsemen plan a final performance at New York City, which would decide many things.

Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco steal the show as the four horsemen who entertains not only the audience inside the movie, but also those outside with not only the thrills, but also the funny lines. They don’t really connect to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation directly with Conquest, War, Famine and Death, even as they do bring a disclosure, an uncovering which might come up more clearly in a possible sequel, as there is the concept of “The Eye” to add to it. I would suspect not only an upcoming apocalypse, but also a final judgement. It is stylish and also sure fun, and its use of CGI has been real appropriate as well as inspiring. Melanie Laurent has come a long way since Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and successfully portrays her suspicious character and so does Morgan Freeman whose character remains in doubt of being the fifth horseman. Isla Fisher’s character has that charm which is matched only by Jesse Eisenberg’s illusionist. Forget Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk of The Avengers, for this should be his better or may be among the best performances, as he seems to have that balance in his character about which only the Hulk can have doubts. There might be the need for a little more explanation in case of the logic freaks, but the movie had a well-deserved clap from the audience in the multiplex after it finished, something which was this loud only with The Dark Knight Rises.

As the options at the theatre are considered, this would seem to be a clear winner at least at this part of the world. After Earth has been bulldozed by the critics as well as the viewers as far as the rottentomatoes and imdb ratings are concerned, and there are only a few shows of the movie around here, which opens that door for Now You See Me which might have been seemed locked before its release here. I would still like to watch the critically panned movie as I won’t trust them on my individual taste, even as there might be nobody to accompany me. Now You See Me has had its share of appreciation in the theatre itself, and I would expect it to bring more audience by the word of mouth, that passing of this magic, and more seats would be full even with a less known cast for the common man of the Indian subcontinent despite of the Will Smith – Jaden Smith power and the power-packed Bollywood releases which take hold of most of the shows along with its wonderful Malayalam counterparts; not to forget Hangover III, Fast & Furious 6 and Iron Man III, all three of those crowd-puller which have refused to go away from the big screens of the malls around here. I would vote for this movie as of now, as I consider this the best of the year 2013 so far, edging ahead of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6.

Release date: 7th June 2013 (India); 13th May 2013 (USA)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Mélanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Oblivion

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It was about six or seven years ago, that the Vampire Bat landed on a game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and he landed on his broken tooth which made him as addicted to it, as Count Dracula is to his coffin. This sequel to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and the predecessor of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had shocked him in a good way, like no other game had before, and his wish was to write a review on it, giving it 100/100 along with Mass Effect, for providing him with that world, his second life where he actually lived, died, resurrected and got beheaded/shot on the head – well, he loved these two games so much that he finished it, as he wanted to that right from the beginning with no rest. For years, the Vampire Bat wished for the movie adaptations of these two, especially of the first one which was his mythical/fantasy world of chivalry compared to the inter-star battles and interactions of the second. But he has been disappointed for long, and here what he get is a movie of the same name as the Oblivion game, with a setting similar to the Mass Effect game. No, the movie doesn’t resemble both of these in story or theme; but this coming together of the elements of these two games is what came to the mind of this nocturnal soul when the first time he saw the movie poster, and he wouldn’t have dared not to share it.

The awesomeness of these two games are clearly visible in this movie though, but not in a way which has similarities. In those games, we could travel anywhere, but coming into the movie, it is a limited world which follows an alien invasion which nearly destroyed the Earth. After the devastation of moon which caused horrible natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis and terrible climatic variations. The land is left uninhabitable with the mankind being transported to their new habitat. Former Marine commander Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a drone mechanic who repairs flying machines with advanced weaponry used for defence against alien lifeforms, and is also one of the last few humans stationed on the dying planet with his co-worker Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) living in a baseless tower-like structure thousands of feet above the Earth, but she is still no Rapunzel, and neither is he her prince or adventurer, something which shall be revealed later. Most of their memories are erased, and the knowledge about their past stays locked at the moment. For now, their relationship would seem to reveal that they are in love and might have been even married.

They are part of an operation to clean up the remaining forces of the alien invasion who are referred to as scavengers and also extract the planet’s remaining resources and are due to join the rest of humanity on Saturn’s moon Titan. Jack and Victoria maintain contact with civilization through a video link with their commander, whom they recognize as Sally (Melissa Leo) who is their symbol of hope and salvation, an escape from a world which is almost a wasteland and surrounded by radio active areas. Jack suffers from dreams which are more like flashbacks, having images of New York before the alien invasion and an unknown beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko). Meanwhile, Jack rescues an unknown woman from a crashed spaceship as she was encased in a sleeping capsule, in a state of hibernation/hypersleep, and she turns out as the woman from his dreams. But they are captured by a group of humans led by Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman) who reveals to him that there are no aliens on the planet and it is the humans who are hunted by the drones. He requests Jack to reprogram one of the captured drones. But Jack refuses. Malcolm then tells Jack to visit the radio active areas which are restricted to him, and there all his doubts will be cleared.

With a spoiler alert, this paragraph shall proceed. It is revealed that the mystery woman is Jack’s wife, Julia who was with Jack and Victoria when they approached the alien ship, before Jack sending her and the other crew of the ship who are in hypersleep, into the space by detaching the backside of the ship, keeping them away from the aliens. Later it is found out that Jack and Victoria are cloned and there is a large number of clones of both, and they were not born, but grown – a reminder of The Matrix and The Daybreakers, I guess. Their supposed to be passionate relationship is also a product of these alien method of growth and one photo of them together. The alien shown here is more of a super computer, may be sent by the possible original aliens, masters of technology. This monolithic structure is clearly logical in its talks and even uses the images known to the originals of the clones so that they could be made to believe and obey. It creates a little dystopia to the group of two, or the groups of two to be exact. They are actually oppressed and are made to fight against their own race by naming them scavenger aliens. But, thanks to the imperfection of the humans, the imperfect cloning technology of the aliens and also a possible divine providence, Jack becomes somewhat the original again and leads the fight against his former employers. The solution would surely be much better than using a computer virus in Independence Day style.

The mystery starts and ends with Tom Cruise’s Jack – may be brings something from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall. We have had so many Jacks, from Jack Reacher to Jack the Giant Slayer, Jack Frost, Jack Sparrow, Jack and Jill etc. Here, this one is more of a thinker and a lover of nature, which makes Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome catch his attention, and he has quite a good collection of books including Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which he has kept in a small house in the middle of greenery unaffected by the destruction that has gone around for years. He is no parrot and this poetic imagination and love for literature makes him different, and may be he evolved thus after his cloning and erasing of memory. How can one not remember what happened in the movie The Island? Such a thing is perfectly applicable to an alien technology. Well, there is no limit for fiction, and if too many limits are placed, it would lose its right to be called fiction. It would become closer to reality, which would still spawn the question, who’s reality? Now that would be something better left untouched. This is another one of Tom Cruise’s memorable characters for sure, even as he may not be the perfect protagonist, and even if he may be many, numbering in millions. He seems to have fitted into the character with ease.

Jack’s should be existential. He should have been that confused in that wasteland, and also when he had realized that he was just a clone or a copy of someone else. There was that redundant identity crisis and those dreams which seemed to perpetuate nothing. His life gets more and more absurd every time he tries to get answers, as all the answers lead to him finally being a random copy. He had waited for salvation, the firmament which awaited him in the moon of Saturn, but that too is crushed. Now what would remain for him to end as a nihilist, but he has the last fight on his list, as he decides to help the human rebels, and in that process, even sacrifice himself. It is through that loss of life, that the Earth could be redeemed. But who needs an alien invasion to destroy the planet, and considering what is done to it, who might be the aliens? Some are alien to the planet and also to their fellow human beings, and in that case, aren’t these aliens with a powerful inverted pyramid computer better as they keep the human race alive? There is the oppression factor, but is that so much of an oppression considering what humans have done to their own kind for centuries and still continue to do the same in a worse manner even while calling themselves modern and technologically advanced?

Morgan Freeman is as solid as ever, and the two women, Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough goes through their sequences as the characters themselves. The former is the emotional lover and the latter the passionate lover. Still, their roles are limited despite the screen presence. Another thing is that the CGI and the special effects out-did the beautiful women. As Jack “wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills” in his mosquito-like helicopter (like that futuristic helicopter they called Raptor in Unreal Tournament 2004), the visually stunning world is brought to light. There is destruction clearly visible, and the signs of the civilization included destroyed buildings, ships and bridges half submerged in sand, never-ceasing smoke from some areas and so on. There are gaps leading to somewhat an abyss between a group of buildings held together by soil or may be in their own centre – a path to Hades and Persephone, half-destroyed structures which look like different things all together, as well as whatever is underground and underwater. To add to it, there is the beautiful area of nature with the small house. Oblivion is an experience, and a lesson to mankind, as well as a reminder of the power of art and literature – rooted on that creativity which is more important than logic, for science can win brutal battles, but to win the war, you need art and literature, as they heal the soul better and people need their wounds to heal and their scars to fade after a major disaster.

Release date: 13th April 2013
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoë Bell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Olympus Has Fallen

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There are a few characters we find difficult to forget. One of them might be that NYPD detective John McClane makes more than just an impact in a Los Angeles skyscraper. It was Die Hard and spanned four sequels, the last one being the most critically panned edition. The first of the series was one of those movies which ruled my childhood, and what Olympus Has Fallen managed to do is to remind me of that one. It is not really a bad thing, as Die Hard never really had a deserving sequel, and this one could have been the closest to being the same. There are terrorists of different nationalities, the setting and the type of building vary by a heavy margin and both the hostages and the redeemer are different, other than that, there might seem a similarity in style and the attitude of the hero in both these movies. With the support of the new technology and the experience gained by the new age movie makers, this one has almost become a worthy successor, not just by the skills, but also by divine providence. This movie’s story is actually an opportunity to die hard, not just for the redeemer, but also for the terrorists – both sides have their own chances, as they have chosen to take the risk.

The name was the first thing to catch my attention. There is something “fallen”, long time after I hear that word, for the second movie of Transformers had it in the name, and so do we hear it relating to the fallen angels of the firmament. But it is not someone who has fallen this time, for it is something. Just for a moment, forgetting the fact that Mount Olympus is also the name of a mountain in the Washington state, lets go to the other Mount Olympus whom we are more familiar about, the highest mountain in Greece, hailed in Greek mythology as the dwelling place of the Twelve Olympian gods of the ancient Greek world ruled over by the most powerful God of thunder and lightning, Zeus himself. According to the writing of the legendary writer Homer, Olympus was that great and divine that it was not shaken by winds nor was wet with rain, and never did snow fall upon it. So it was said about the abode of the twelve; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Hermes, and here we have another Olympus, another seat of supreme power, the White House of the United States.

The hero of the story and another form of John McClane is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), the lead Secret Service agent assigned with the United States President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) whose wife dies in an accident – an incident which Banning fails to prevent even as he manages to save the President’s life. Eighteen months later, Banning works at the Treasury Department, not separated by the scars of the incident which blinded his senses. But he is still not separated from his skills. His office is not too far away from the White House and lives a quiet life with his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) after being demoted. Meanwhile, during a meeting between the heads of the United States and South Korea, Korean-led guerrilla forces, aided by some people from the inside itself, launch a perfectly planned air and ground attack which surprises and even shocks the defence and leads to the capture of the White House. The ease with which they achieves this rather surprising, and the deaths which occur in this assault, especially of civilians is more of a thing of terror than strangeness.

Asher and several top officials are held hostage in the White House bunker, where the South Korean prime minister is killed by the same terrorists. The attack has been lead by Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune), a wanted terrorist wishing for a reunification of Korea. He wishes to force the United States army to withdraw from Korea. He also wants to detonate all of America’s nuclear weapons in their own soil and destroy the country by turning it into a nuclear wasteland, but for this, he will need a few access codes, and in achieving this, he will go to any limit, murder being just a simple thing of no significance. Meanwhile, Banning manages to get into the White House, and begins his own mission of saving the President’s son who might be somewhere in the house and murdering the terrorists one by one before finally rescuing all the captives including the President himself. It is his miracle and his second chance given by fate on the way to redemption, his chance to become another John McClane, into which this character successfully transforms into. In the objective, he is aided by Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the Speaker of the House and the Acting President through earphone.

Gerard Butler is at his best since his King Leonidas of 300; as he improves upon Gamer & unleashes the new action hero who is likable to most of the audience if not all of them. Mike Banning is the new John McClane, and there is no point in the movie where you can doubt it with full heart. He saves the day, and his world as well as of others, and he is alone in this job. He looks vulnerable on so many occasions, and is still strong throughout. He had his ups and downs in life and career. He has more courage and love for action than anybody else – he wishes to die hard. Radha Mitchell’s role as his wife is limited, and Morgan Freeman’s role is not that much as expected considering the posters. Rick Yune’s villains is successful without doubt, not in the mission but with the audience. Aaron Eckhart’s President works quite well. The best thing is that there is no silly romance, and even the screentime for married couple discussing future is pretty much low. There is no slowness in the movie, and even when the situation seem to calm down, there is a certain amount of thrilling factor ready to explode.

The movie can be termed as unrealistic and violent as most of the others of the same genre, but there are limits which the movie hasn’t crossed, those which have contributed to the success of this movie for the common audience. Still the dose of patriotism and CGI might be a little high. The action and the blood reminds one of more than one first person shooters of the 2000s, for I shall not speak about 2010s and what is to come later. But, this is no computer game – still, the destruction is immense, not just with the bombing and shooting, but also with the two people of fearlessness on both sides, of good and evil, of saving and destroying. There might be less memorable dialogues in this one considering what one should be expecting, but the avoidance of unnecessary dialogues also contributes to the success of this movie, for it rests on Gerard Butler’s character as what he is, rather than what he pretends to be, and what he appears to be. In that case, he is better than John McClane, even if not more interesting for the masses. The fall of the Olympus is one thing and the rise of the titan is another, and that titan in Butler as Banning, for he has to achieve what the Olympian gods couldn’t, not by fighting them or himself, but by saving his own Olympus from the common outsider enemy.

As the upcoming movie White House Down also seems to deal with the same theme of a takeover of the White House, one has to wait and see which one ends up being superior. But for now, Olympus Has Fallen keeps the title of being the movie which has taken this theme to new heights. Even as it is more of a Die Hard happening in White House, there is no point where this can be seen as a thing of lesser energy or imagination. There has been no creativity which was left in the gutters with this movie, as it had that impressive style of taking the audience by surprise, at least in this part of the world where this is to be considered as a highly under-rated and a not much screened movie. The presence of the new 3D version of Jurassic Park and G. I. Joe: Retaliation‘s hesitation to leave might be the main reasons. But as even Life of Pi hasn’t really left some of the theatres here, there is surely no surprise about. But the fact remains that it is time these movies get their due, even if they are not hyped enough and has no stars who are popular enough in this part of the world.

Release date: 22nd March 2013 (USA); 5th April 2013 (India)
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell, Rick Yune

olympus copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.