The Witches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Zootopia

Vampire Owl: And, here is our Academy Award Winner of the year, Zootopia.

Vampire Bat: It also won the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Movie Award and Annie Award for the Best Animated Feature Film.

Vampire Owl: I see that it had also received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.

Vampire Bat: But I still thought that Moana would get the award.

Vampire Owl: So did I, with The Rock also there for our entertainment.

Vampire Bat: The movies that we like the most rarely gets the award, does it?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I remember such occasions a lot.

Vampire Bat: Maybe we should get the chance to recommend a few ourselves.

Vampire Owl: We need the Vampire Academy Awards as soon as possible.

Vampire Bat: Still, I don’t think that there is that much of a difference between the Oscar nominated and won movies.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with sweet porotta].

What is the movie about? :: We are introduced to a world in which different kinds of animals thrive, as they live together without considering the differences that their species bring. The lifestyle is more like humans, and they are separated by their species and cuisines like we are by all those things beginning with race, there is a clear reflection of human life. The centre of all these is the place where everyone wishes to live in, the mega city of Zootopia where there is the chance for everyone to be what they want to be, and have a good life. So it is quite natural for a lot of animals to choose to go to this city and try their luck, as it is with many human cities. It is due to the same reason that a rabbit from a village called Bunnyburrow, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) wishes to become a police officer in the city. But it is not that easy, because it is not a usual job for the rabbits.

So, what happens next? :: But Judy does manage to become a police officer, even though her father Stu Hopps (Don Lake) and her mother Bonnie Hopps (Bonnie Hunt) doesn’t believe that she can perform well enough. They believe that she will come back to her some day, and save herself from the dangerous criminal world. With every other person in the police department being a strong mammal, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) doubts the abilities of her as a rabbit, and puts her in parking duty – her parents like it, but she doesn’t, as she performed so well during her training, and wanted to prove herself. But with other animals being bigger in size and strength, like buffaloes, leopards, tigers, lions along with others, it was always going to be a tough task for her to prove something physically. But she decides that she will prove everyone wrong.

What is to follow now? :: As she leaves the parking duty to arrest a thief Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk), Bogo is furious about her. As she even volunteers to solve a case related to Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) whose husband has gone missing, he decides that he will give the case to her, but she will have to quit if she fails to solve it. Dawn Bellwether (Jenny Slate) who is the assistant mayor of Zootopia, supports her, but she gets only forty eight hours to solve the case of this particular person and many other missing mammals. She makes a small-time con artist fox Nicholas P. Wilde (Jason Bateman) also join her, because he was the last one to see the missing person, and he also has many contacts in the city. Even though reluctant at first, he decides to join her in the end, and they go on a search deep into this problem – can they solve this or will Judy have to go back to her carrot farm in the village?

Zootopia as a tale with a fine core :: The movie has to be admired for how it uses its idea of different species to symbolise different people. There is difference in everyone whom we meet, and the idea of being different in many ways, is shown here too. It is up-to each one of us to go chasing that dream as a different person, and it is what everyone needs to do, no matter what problems come in between. At least the attempt has to be made here. The message against bullying is there, and we can also see that judging others is the worst thing that can be done against a person with an opinion on his own life. If someone wants to pursue something with all their hearts, the society just comes in between – what we want to do, we rarely gets to achieve; lets hope that Zootopia brings the inspiration for people who wish to be different with their lives.

What it says about the world :: Still, the other major idea in this movie is rather something which is so difficult to come true that it will work for almost nobody – you really can’t be anything that you want, and it is a fact; no matter how much one tries, he or she will be only become what the society wants them to be. There are so many people who are caught in this web from which there is no escape. We wonder why is the world so much interested in judging us, and eventually we fall into that trap. We are judged at home and we are further judged at the office if we have a job – we are judged by our relatives if we don’t have a job or are not married. The judgment is passed in such a way that we are good only for one thing, and people will rate us by what we earn – they will decide what we are capable of – it is a shameful thing, isn’t it?

How it finishes :: Zootopia is a movie that has so many messages in store, which makes this a movie for the adults as well as for the children. One has to wonder if this movie was preferred over the rest of the movies nominated for the Academy Awards due to the message against “racism” rather than the rest of the things including those nicely detailed characters and the extra messages that come into the picture – so, it got to follow Inside Out, Big Hero 6 and Frozen in that winning path. Everyone can hope to leave the theatres with questions as well as the messages that linger in the mind, and at the same time, with that feel-good effect. Well, the animated movies are the best whenever it comes to bringing some fine messages for the children and the adults alike. Zootopia follows the same path without giving its viewers a chance to complain, and there is a lot of fun in store without doubt.

Release date: 4th March 2016
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush (co-director)
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Raymond S. Persi, Maurice LaMarche, Phil Johnston, John DiMaggio, Gita Reddy, Katie Lowes, Jesse Corti, Tom Lister Jr., Josh Dallas, Leah Latham, Rich Moore, Peter Mansbridge, Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Mark Smith, John Lavelle, Kristen Bell, Josie Trinidad

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Allegiant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat :: Here we go again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

allegiant

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insurgent

insurgent (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

insurgent

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.