Snake Eyes

Vampire Owl: I remember a time when all vampires played with GI Joe toys.

Vampire Bat: Well, that was a very short period of time.

Vampire Owl: Yet, those were some wonderful days.

Vampire Bat: If I remember correctly, those were nights. When we were awake.

Vampire Owl: Both days and nights belonged to games.

Vampire Bat: You mean to include computer games too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, that would make this a very long list.

Vampire Bat: I would start with Age of Empires and Age of Wonders for that.

Vampire Owl: Yet, there was no game like Unreal Tournament 99.

Vampire Bat: Only to be permanently addicted to Mass Effect later.

[Gets a milk peda and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy witnesses his father being murdered by a group of armed people, after their leader determines his fate by rolling a dice. Many years later, he has grown up to a skilled martial arts fighter Snake Eyes (Henry Golding). As he keeps winning all the fights and changing cities, a rich Yakuza boss named Kenta Takamura (Takehiro Hira) disovers him in a fighting arena in Los Angeles. Even though he doesn’t like the offer in the beginning, the idea of being able to find the people who killed his father makes him interested. But when he is asked to murder Tommy (Andrew Koji), who despite being Kenta’s cousin, had broken trust, he refuses, and even helps him to escape. Both Tommy and Kenta were next line to become leader of their clan, and the latter tried to have the former killed. Kenta’s plan was discovered before it could materialize, and Tommy had him banished. As Snake Eyes cannot go back to Los Angeles as he would be hunted by the Yakuza, he is taken to Tokyo instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Tommy who feels that he owes a blood debt to Snake Eyes, takes him to his ninja world. Sen (Eri Ishida), Tommy’s grandmother who leads the ninja clan agrees to let him join the group under some conditions, even though the head of secutiy, Akiko (Haruka Abe) is not fond of anyone from outside joining them, as it would be an unusual practice. He is supposed to go through three challenges, first two challenges to cleanse him of ego, anger and fear, and get him ready for the third one. Tommy also lets him know that failure means death. He will only has a few days to train for the same. With no recorded history about him and being known only by a strange alias, Akiko continues to doubt him. But she is still confident that Snake Eyes will fail the first test itself, as at least eighty percent of them fail every time. Tommy feels confident that Snake Eyes will be among the passing twenty percent, but there is certainly more than one twist to it.

The defence of Snake Eyes :: There is a lot of fighting going on in this tale inspired from a toy line, and the reboot has started off pretty well with hope for something big to be seen in a sequel with so many characters to come. Four of the most interesting characters, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Baroness have been introduced, and we can keep hoping for more. The sword fights show a certain amount of quality here, and it is not all that we see here, as we have something more in an year which provided us with Mortal Kombat. The final battle is a big one, and it has everyone going after one another. The location of the ninjas is nicely chosen too. Well, one always feel happy about watching Japan on the screen – Tokyo is nothing less than a dream city. When you look at origin stories, starting with the tale of the two ninjas seem to be the right choice, especially as the earlier movies didn’t focus enough on the two. From this beginning, the movie seems to assert that it won’t go the Transformers way, bringing more confusion as the film franchise progresses.

The claws of flaw :: Even with its twists, there is a certain amount of predictability associated with it. The hero here is the one whom we wish to have on the side of the Cobra though, as Storm Shadow is hundred percent a better person of quality than Snake Eyes by any means – it is how things are shown here. We would have wished for Snake Eyes to stay in the Cobra even as the toy storyline states otherwise. Well, just one person is responsible for all these, and he seems to be the good guy in the end. A better introduction for the characters of GI Joe and Cobra would have been better – just having Scarlett and Baroness is not good enough, and the two ninja brothers have only started. Cobra could have actually had a better job to do here too. The idea of vengeance could have been portrayed better, and instead this one seems to go here and there, not sticking to a particular plan, just like the main character himself who seems to be the most clueless one. Maybe, he intends to set things right with a sequel if there is one.

The performers of the soul :: The two leading actors, Henry Golding and Andred Koji seems to be perfectly suited for the roles, and they seem to go on with the action sequences with relative ease, especially the latter who seems to blend in from the beginning itself. Rachel Nichols who played Scarlett has been replaced by Samara Weaving, and it does seem to be a nice change – there is still only a little to be done for her here, even though she gets some of the action. Sienna Miller has been replaced by Ursula Corbero, and let us hope that this time the story won’t have the dumn romance angle, and what was ridiculous about the character played by Sienna won’t be repeated here – Ursula does make a fine entry here, and there is some nice action for her too. Haruka Abe nicely blends into her role of the security in charge of the ninjas, while Takehiro Hira has his interesting moments as the antagonist. The two masters played by Iko Uwais and Peter Mensah remains interesting too. Along with the same, Eri Ishida as the grandmother comes as a surprise package in the action scenes too.

How it finishes :: It seems that this movie will serve as a new beginning, with the origins stories coming one’s way. The earlier movies of GI Joe were entertaining for sure, but it never really used the strengths to the best advantage, and there was even some strange romantic sides to them. This movie could serve as a better beginning for a franchise reminding us of all the toys that we had during our childhood – I still have them in the showcase of the house. Well, there are not many movies which can bring such a nostalgia from figures – actually, there is no other which I can remember. In that case, this film would serve nicely to bring more into the series. Let us hope that this new coming won’t be confused as the earlier journey with the toys. But as this is based on toys, we can only hope for the best, not for it to haunt us. Until then, let us be prepared by watching this movie on Amazon Prime Video in advance. You always have space for movies like these, at least as the big entertainers full of action and style.

Release date: 22nd July 2021
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Ursula Corbero, Samara Weaving, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Iko Uwais

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Code 8

Vampire Owl: Do you know that according the eighth code of vampirism, you are not allowed to use a level eight portal to the human world because it passes through the shadow world?

Vampire Bat: Yes, isn’t that the code which saves the vampires from corruption by the shadows of pure evil alignment?

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is exactly what the code is about. Code 8 is divided into three hundred and thirty nine sub-codes, each needed to be learnt by those pursuing masters in Vampire Law and Order.

Vampire Bat: The humans are not aware of it. So, this code is surely going to be something different.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that the eighth code is something that prevents itself from being studied by the common man, reserved only for those who study a course related to it?

Vampire Bat: You are talking as if all other codes are learned by the normal vampire apprentice all the time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but this code is different. It deals with saving our kind from the type of terrible evil that people even fear to talk about.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Vampire Crocodile once talked about that.

Vampire Owl: What? I knew that the guy was really evil.

Vampire Bat: And he is working for charity among the undead these days.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Set a long time into the future, it is shown that four percentage of people living on Earth has developed some special abilities, which are mostly supernatural in nature. They are able to do what the so called normal people can’t, are qualified enough to be superheroes in the comics. But here, they are made pariahs, and kept under control by the police department which keep them away from the rest of the civilization, as these special people are always watched by the law, with their movements checked. The people in power and those who voted them, they all find these powerful people to be a threat to their world, and keeps them away to maintain the order, as if quarantined. The people with special powers are more of the untouchables in a caste system rather than any other – they can’t find work, and are not able to find their daily food, and with surveillance around, they never really succeed in breaking the law that much.

So, what happens next in this journey? :: Taylor Reed (Robbie Amell) is one of those young men with such special abilities, and struggles to find work and earn money like any other of his kind. He and his friend Freddie (Aaron Abrams) are chosen for some work, but are not paid enough, and that leads to him causing some trouble, which sends the police after them. The drone which searches for people with special abilities finds them and keeps them under control using mechanized soldiers. The nearest police car responds, and the officers wish to arrest the two for breaking the law, but they are adamant that they haven’t. In this prejudiced society, can Taylor and Freddie, or any of their kind find any justice? Or will they be able to bring the justice on this world by themselves? What are the so called normal people and their all-knowing government really afraid of?

Soul exploration 1: Prejudice against the skilled :: Just like you see in those X-Men movies, we see the mutants, or rather the special skilled in this case, being under prejudice from those others, the humans who don’t have any special power, and feels weak against these gifted people. So, they wish to control the super-powered, not allowing them to rise, which might lead to them taking control of the normal human world which is built on what has been the rather usual thing. Yes, taking over or destroying the human world is one thing, and there is more that the specials could do – they could just take over all the jobs. With mind control, the criminals could be tracked with ease, and even the crime could be prevented before it is done. With control over metals or other materials, construction could be done better with these special people. Superior strength would mean that only one person is needed for a job instead of five or six. These special skills were always going to make the normal person feel worthless, which would make them come up with a need to suppress the skilled.

Soul exploration 2: Prejudice against the other :: Yes, these skilled people taking away your opportunities is one reason to hate them, and then there is common thing which has been going on for many centuries. There has been the race, nationality, caste and religion being reasons, and here we have the presence and absence of power as the one big reason. More reasons are rather not needed when these people are others, and your group can’t relate to them. Then hate becomes an easy thing, and each and every thing which they do differently will be worth detesting, as if all these are being done as actions against you. What all they do will also been as something which is against your culture and traditions, and the conclusion will be that your wonderful, perfect world full of only the right things, will be destroyed by these others. There is absolutely no need to teach hatred to a new generation, as they thrive in doing that – we can see such examples all the time around us. One can trust this science fiction tale to develop on these themes very well along with being a big action thriller.

How it finishes :: This short-film is supposed to be made into a bigger full-length movie, which is planned to be released in the year 2019. It was due to this particular information that I came to know about this short-film and decided to watch it. I haven’t really watched many science fiction short-films, except for The Shaman, which is another movie from the same genre which I had liked. It takes skill to make a short-film with a science fiction idea, and this one has done it nicely to set things up for the full version of the movie – this is more like a demo version of a game, for which we are waiting for the full playable version. Imagine this one as a game, and this could be even more. It would be nice to have watched this short-film before that full movie is released, as we get to know what is to be expected, and for what we are going to spend a few hours. You get ten minutes of the big idea in advance; this one is a level ahead of the rest with its visuals, special effects and the cast.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I am also of the opinion that the mutants need to be controlled.

Vampire Bat: So, you are against the X-Men too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, there are already too many gifted species, with the vampires being the most brilliant of them.

Vampire Bat: It is said that the new age vampires are not that good as the elder vampires of the past.

Vampire Owl: They are just jealous of our ability to think so beyond that it hurts their minds to do something like that.

Vampire Bat: They are known to be the world’s greatest vampire minds, which was why they came to be called the Vampire Elders.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that it is not because they are really old?

Vampire Bat: Because they are old and wise.

Vampire Owl: They should still be having memory problems, right?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that people with special abilities won’t mind. It is not like you will have an invisible actor with special powers.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 22nd March 2016
Running time: 10 minutes
Directed by: Jeff Chan
Starring: Robbie Amell, Aaron Abrams, Sung Kang, Stephen Amell, Chad Donella, Peter Huang, Alfred Rubin Thompson, Al Marchesi, Christine Pagulayan, Patrice Henry, Phyllis Politowicz, Tonya Dodds Sinisac, Ryan Freer, Jack Horan, Jeff Sinisac

Watch the movie Code 8 here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Culprit

Vampire Owl: Do you know that I am a culprit in love?

Vampire Bat: How is that relevant right now?

Vampire Owl: I just wanted to remind you that the word applies to me too.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that your experience cannot match the genre of this short-film.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that you are not finished reviewing short-films?

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why I should ever stop doing that.

Vampire Owl: What about those big movies which have got you most of the hits?

Vampire Bat: They have stopped being something that matter. I am supporting smaller ones right now; they are the future. There is more material in them.

Vampire Owl: You are talking like a true vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I am the first vampire apprentice to write movie reviews. So, my opinion counts more than most of the others in the New Vampire World.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Amal (Akhil Vivek) reaches Mumbai from Cochin to meet Jithu (Danish Ashokan), a friend and an elder brotherly figure. It turns out that he has run away from Kerala after the circumstances which lead to a girl named Ancy Kuriyan Thomas (Dona Shankar) going missing, pointed fingers at him. There hasn’t been much progress in the case which only has him as the sole link to the events, but about which he has no clue. Amal tells Jithu his story, which has his best friend Sooraj (Akash Sheel), and an unknown phone call from a female voice which introduced itself as a girl named Devika Varma. As they get closer, Amal asks for her to meet up with him instead of being the random voice on his phone. But despite her agreeing to meet up at Cherai, later calls him to warn him against calling her again unless he wishes to get in trouble.

So, what happens next? :: As they attempt to investigate on the matter, it leads them to Dr. Shafeeq (Anwar Shereef) on whose name, the sim card is taken. He tells them something about the missing girl in the news, Ancy Kuriyan Thomas, which shocks them. But it turns out that they can’t tell that to anyone else, as it would put the shadow of doubt on them. But the police ends up getting a photo which works against Amal, and puts him directly in trouble from the cops as well as the media. Now, he has come directly to Maharashtra and hopes to solve this confusing problem. Can he do that before time runs out? Who is this Devika Varma and how is she related to the mysterious disappearance of Ancy Kuriyan Thomas? Is there a chance than Ancy might be alive after so many days? Why does all this point to Amal when it seems to be clear that he has nothing to do with the girl named Ancy?

The defence of Culprit :: The suspense that the movie has is pretty much huge, and we enjoy how it is told, and it is twisted, in a positive way. From the first few moments, it is established that we have a thriller in store, and then, after a few minutes of the usual stuff to set up the whole thing, we are taken back to staying on the edge of our seats. One would still feel that the end was too quick, and wonder if the absence of the explanation for some deeds were the need – it still lets us think more, and come up with our own conclusions. The movie is actually longer than most of those usual short-films that you see, and so there is plenty of time for the viewers to get drawn into it. With its half an hour run-time over, we end up wishing for the length to be little more, and that is surely a rare thing. Whenever the movie seems to stray away from its path, there will be something, a moment or a dialogue to bring it back on track, and it has a smooth run all the way.

Soul exploration :: Culprit explores what all are there as more than what meets the eye. It shows a protagonist being clueless against a force which seems to have worked against him right from the beginning. There is a mystery here that needs to be solved, as it threatens his own existence, and he understands it should be done as quickly as possible. What we see here is a crime committed, and the person who does that goes to any end to make sure that he is not convicted; for it is something planned well enough to have more than one escape route – there is not much of friendships here to save the day, as the protagonist can trust nobody. We see the movie slowly and steadily getting hold of things, leading to that wonderful revealing in the end. There are things that the movie doesn’t try to tell, and on everything else, what you see and understand gets the clarity.

How it finishes :: Culprit is a fine example of how the right talent shows itself when there is a chance. On one side, we have those big movies struggling to become interesting thrillers, and even with that high budget and big stars, they fail – but here, we have something small in scale, but strong with the idea, which is presented really well on screen. We get a great quality here, without waiting in the queue or spending that extra money on online booking, along with those increased ticket prices – we just need a few MB of data to get into some nice thrilling moments. Culprit also comes at a time when there have been too many short-films dealing with the great nonsense romance in many absurd ways. A well-made thriller lasting half an hour is something that has the strength to go far, and it is hence proven by this short-film.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: Do you think that such people can exist in our society too?

Vampire Bat: We are an alcohol-free society – so it would be difficult, but evil always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they could come through the portal which Doctor Frankenstein had opened earlier?

Vampire Bat: Mr. Frankenstein can only be the means to evil if we allow him to be.

Vampire Owl: It could be through anyone, someone whom we trust the most.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Evil as a person is a clever manipulator.

Vampire Owl: It could be the Lich Queen, Werewolf Anger, Vampire Kung Fu Panda

Vampire Bat: Why do you keep waiting for evil to come, when there is the chance to embrace goodness?

Vampire Owl: Well, you just can’t see so much evil, and still go with goodness.

Vampire Bat: Goodness is difficult, and evil is easy. It is on this that we wonder, and get inspired to think more about the same.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 9th July 2017
Running time: 31 minutes
Directed by: Jithin S Babu
Starring: Akhil Vivek, Danish Ashokan, Dona Shankar, Akash Sheel, Anwar Shereef, Santhu Bhai

Watch the interesting thriller, Culprit here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

What is the movie about? :: Prasad (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and Sreeja (Nimisha Sajayan) are in love after a certain misunderstanding between them. Living near Vaikom at a village where the caste feeling is high, both are at trouble due to Sreeja’s father and relatives being fully against the marriage and threatens them. The result is that both of them runs away from the place after their wedding, and goes to a remote place in Kasargod where they have bought some land and a place to stay, hoping to get into agriculture. But it turns out that there is no water available there, and things once again takes a twist. They decide to get a loan against her gold ornaments, but her necklace ends up being stolen when in the bus, messing up with their plans. This theft was committed by a man known by the same name, Prasad (Fahadh Faasil) whom Sreeja had seen devouring it to escape being caught with it.

So, what happens next? :: So, the KSRTC bus driver, conductor and the travelers join to take the man to the nearby police station. It is more of a remote area, which doesn’t have leaves too many options for the police than to wait, as Sreeja is certain that the man had stolen her necklace and the thief tells the police that he has stolen nothing, and is working at a road-side eatery making porottas. But when the police asks for an id, he has none, and so they decide to keep him at the police station and wait. With no other option left, the couple also has to wait to find a way to find the necklace from him, as nothing could be proven otherwise. The police officer in charge of the case, A.S.I. Chandran (Alencier Ley Lopez) assures them that the thief is a smart one, but he solves such cases all the time, and will get them their necklace. So, who is the smartest of them all – is it the thief, the couple or the police officer?

The defence of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum :: The question of Dileesh Potham brilliance rises again, and we can see that there is something about it everywhere that fuels this movie. It is a fine narration that takes the story to another level, as we have the perfect example on how to make simplicity so interesting. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is once again an everyman movie like Maheshinte Prathikaram, and those elite classes will not get their due here – there is almost no person in this movie who can be put into that “rich” category, which brings us the real movie for the people, which has never been the self-proclaimed “local” movies. The humour is also working, and they are also based on simple things of life – still there are twists. Once again, we see that the visuals are nice, as you know who in charge of them with the camera. The music is good, with “Kannile Poika” nicely visualized. There is the message hope and forgiveness, even though they are not readily visible.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel a little bit slow and a little bit dull at moments of the first half, as we expect it to be fun-filled entertainer like Maheshinte Prathikaram which had absolutely no moment which will make us doubtful. The emptiness that you feel in between, and the repetition that might seem to occur are also certain to be seen. You do feel at times, that this has a little too much of a remider of Action Hero Biju – so, if you don’t like that movie, there is a chance that Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum will not be that interesting to you too. The story also doesn’t have that much in it to talk about, as things are rather simple, and the whole thing is focused to particular places. If you are looking for the usual kind of a movie, this will not claim to be one, which might be a good thing for a few, and not an interesting thing for some others. There could have been a bigger punch by the end, which is not there.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has his second movie running in the theatres at the same time, as Role Models is already there, having released for Eid with Avarude Raavukal and Oru Cinemakkaran – his earlier movies were Take Off and Maheshinte Prathikaaram, and it has been a fine run which continues into this movie too. Fahadh’s work, no matter how good or bad a movie is always something to look forward too – after all, this one is really good. There is a certain balance in his work, and even the simplest emotions from him brings the claps from the audience – the thief’s smiles score big. Suraj Venjaramoodu brings a performance which brings him back to the “fortress of seriousness”, with a full role rather than what he had in Action Hero Biju – he even has the romantic side to explore nicely. The National Award Winner for Best Actor in 2013 is the hero in this one, even though the term has less potential in a realistic story having no heroism.

Further performers of the soul :: Nimisha Sajayan makes a good debut with this movie too, as her work is simple as well as memorable. We see her taking it further with some realistic emotional scenes. It will be nice to see her in a different performance in one of the upcoming movies, and I remember having read that she has signed for another movie already. The next memorable character in the movie is played by Alencier Ley Lopez, who plays the police officer again after Njan Steve Lopez, and combines forces with Fahadh Faasil and Dileesh Pothan once again after Maheshinte Prathikaaram. You remember Vinay Forrt becoming the officer in control of things in Kismath where almost everything happens in the police stations – Alencier gets to do the same, but he has another mode on with Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. There is also the presence of some lesser known faces, who all do a fine job – it seems that the right ones are chosen for sure.

How it finishes :: We have all known what Dileesh Pothan is capable of, with his Maheshinte Prathikaaram, the National Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam and also for Best Screenplay. The same combination of him with Fahadh Faasil returned here, and as expected there is something for us to be impressed, as we were waiting with expectations being a lot high. The movie with a realistic side will always have more for us than what any of those big superstar movies possess. It is the same realization that makes a lot of people to arrive at the theatres on a rainy day, defying all odds to get a ticket for this rather simple a movie – even the advance bookings have been even more. When the first movie was a success, the second movie has become a bigger challenge, as he has to match the glory, and here, with his brilliance continuing, Dileesh Pothan has kept Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum working, even though not as much as Maheshinte Prathikaaram.

Release date: 30th June 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Nimisha Sajayan, Soubin Shahir, Shince Mathew, Jithin KC, Vettukili Prakash, Sreekanth Murali

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.