Zombieland: Double Tap

What is the movie about? :: Years have passed after that incident which involved a case of mad cow disease mutating into mad person disease transforming people into zombies, an event which started in the United States of America, but spread to the whole world in a short amount of time. The virus had turned the nation into a wasteland, where people struggled to survive against the creatures while finding the supplies from here and there, as people used the names of places as their own nicknames, not being attached to anyone. But there were a few exceptions for that case too, as it was seen in the previous movie. Ten years have passed after Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Colombus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) had started living like a family while making their way through a zombie infested nation. The team have become experts in zombie hunting and finds their new home in the abandoned White House.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Colombus takes the idea of starting a new family very seriously, and proposes to Wichita with the Hope Diamond from Smithsonian Museum, an act which doesn’t go well with her, who is afraid of getting attached to him during the time of a zombie pandemic. She begins to value her freedom more when listening to the proposal. Meanwhile, Little Rock is not happy about Tallahassee playing too much of a father figure and considering her as a little girl, not allowing her to find a lover and start her own family. Wichita and Little Rock leave the place, after placing a note there. Tallahassee is not that unhappy about their decision to leave, but Colombus is devastated. One day, in a mall, they meet Madison (Zoey Deutch), a girl who survived the zombie apocalypse alone by hiding most of the time inside a freezer, having absolutely no contact with other humans or zombies for many years.

And what else follows with the happenings? :: Colombus manages to find a lover in Madison after the heart break, despite Tallahassee saying that the only reason the zombies spared her life was that she had no brain for them to eat. As Colombus and Madison spends the night together in Lincoln’s room in the White House, Wichita makes a return to find them together. She looks forward to finding Little Rock who had left with Berkeley (Avan Jogia), a pacifist and a hippie with lots of weed and a guitar which he keeps playing. The team of Tallahassee, Colombus, Wichita and Madison takes a minivan, and starts the journey searching for Little Rock and her newfound love interest. Madison finds the journey as her long awaited road trip, and during this travel, there would be more zombies to deal with, including more agile, powerful and durable super-zombies that takes multiple gunshots to kill, named T-800 after the machines of the Terminator franchise. Can they survive it all?

The defence of Zombieland: Double Tap :: There is enough fun in store here as zombie attacks lead to some fine action sequences, with a touch of humour. The funny side remains strong, and the new characters only add more here. The fans are going to consider this to be a very good sequel which goes on the same path as the first movie had chosen, and there is nothing much that deviates. The best of funny moments relate to Zoey Deutch, as the character leaves the best potential for the comic side, starting from the freezer and going for the zombie infested road trip. The zombie hunts are nicely done, we do have some family bonding going on here, as the group is even extended. In the end, movies on virus pandemics are of more interest these days due to the Corona virus, and it doesn’t matter what happens to the patients of this zombie virus as long as its in a fictional world of a movie.

The claws of flaw :: Zombieland: Double Tap doesn’t apply much of brains to the brain-eating zombie movie, but one has to say that it was rather expected. The first movie had explored the idea of zombie comedy and the premise really well, leading to not much being left for this particular sequel. Therefore, we only have a little bit of innovation, if that can be found after some searching done. Zombies are also losing their significance, and this movie needed more of the creature action – more attacks were to happen considering the fact that there are better and improved zombies in action here. The beginning part of the movie also seems to be forced, so that there can be a reason for them to keep running, that too after finding a fine home in White House. This is where Zombieland: Double Tap can make things better with another sequel, if there is one.

The performers of the soul :: Woody Harrelson leads the way here, with the funny moments as well as the action sequences naturally. Jesse Eisenberg follows the same here, as things don’t really change much for his character here. Emma Stone once again has that fine character which she performs with ease, and Abigail Breslin has let to do in comparison, thus having no trouble in doing the same. The movie also have some nice additions which can be taken over to the next sequel, and the best of them is undoubtedly, Zoey Deutch who handles the funny side so well that all her moments bring the best humour to be remembered. Rosario Dawson also makes a pretty good addition, even though her character is just another one expected to be there in a setting like this. Avan Jogia doesn’t add much, as any minor character could have done the job, or even a photo.

How it finishes :: This second movie in the franchise might not be as satisfying as the original Zombieland, but it is still a lot of fun, with the zombies, and the fact that the movie has kept all the original characters played by the same actors, along with adding some interesting characters makes things even better for the fans and admirers of that zombie comedy which even inspired a lot of people to watch the Bollywood zombie comedy, Go Goa Gone. With the end finally coming for the Resident Evil franchise, we have missed the zombie pandemic, and Zombieland is the answer to our need for the zombie virus. During the time of Corona virus, as it spread through the world, there is always room for another virus, especially for a zombie pandemic. After all, most of the nations all around the world are in lockdown even without the zombies. So, lets have more of such movies.

Release date: 18th October 2019
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Jesse Eisenberg, Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Avan Jogia, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch

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Mortal Engines

What is the movie about? :: Far into the future, following an event which caused the destruction of most of Earth, cities exist here and there, with people and resources associated with them, and they move on wheels looking for options. Among them are the predator cities which feed on those smaller cities, capturing the people and taking their resources in a world which has nothing much left after that event which ended the normal flow of events. The big predator city of London chasing a small mining town is one of those events that is shown in the beginning itself. Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), the man in charge has things going his way, but all of a sudden, a masked lady comes from the group of the people from the captured town and stabs him, only to be stopped from doing the same again by Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), thus Thaddeus surviving with a wound which could be treated easily.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The woman is identified as Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) who wants to murder Thaddeus who was responsible for killing her own mother and giving her the scar on the left of her face. As she fails in doing the same, Tom chases her, but is thrown out of the city along with her by Thaddeus who suspects that he knows something about his secret past. The two are forced to team up and try to survive together in a world which has nothing to provide hope for people left alone. The scorched grounds leave them with no resources to survive, and they end up being captured by slave traders. While Hester is being displayed on stage and sold to the highest bidder, Anna Fang (Jihae), an outlaw who fights against Thaddeus shows up, and saves her from slavery. Hester escapes with Tom, but someone else shows up.

And what else is to follow here? :: Shrike (Stephen Lang), the last of an undead battalion of soldiers shows up and goes for Hester. Thaddeus counts on the undead soldier to kill her, while she continues running with Tom and Anna. Shrike will not stop until he gets what he wants. It turns out that there is more than what meets the eye about Thaddeus and his own daughter Katherine Valentine (Leila George) figures that out with the help of an apprentice engineer Bevis Pod (Ronan Raftery). There are more evil plans at work, and if they don’t figure out the same soon enough, there is going to be terrible consequences. Thaddeus has a weapon that can make the worst happen, and the seriousness regarding the same won’t be understood by most people, except for our protagonists – but will they be too late with this? Will London gain superiority over each and every other city?

The defence of Mortal Engines :: The visuals are the best thing about this movie. The post-apocalyptic world and the machines are amazingly good, and far above the quality of some of those other flicks which claim to be grand visual treat. The colours are very nicely used, and the world detail gets full marks. You will find the big explosions in the climax to be too good, visually as well as in relation to the sound effects. There are some fine action sequences, and the thrills are present throughout the flick. Even with all these in the front, there seems to be something that lies beneath – the idea about the rich and the powerful feeding on the poor, and the desire for more power and control. One can see how important war becomes, even after there was a destruction of the world which came so close to destroying humanity itself to be replaced by another species.

The claws of flaw :: People might want more to be explained with this movie, and more could have surely been shown directly. The story surely could have used more focus, and the whole world itself could have had some smart explanations. Even the predator cities could have had their parts shown more clearly, and the same could have been part of big fights with other cities all around the world – it would have made the audience more familiar with the idea before the whole thing developed further. Those who are not used to watching this kind of movies won’t be that comfortable – well, this is a movie which has released even outside the main cities, and so that could have helped a lot. The steampunk genre can always use more of everything, as the possibilities are endless that way – genres of fantasy, horror and historical fiction could have been here stronger.

The performers of the soul :: Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw is surely the one person who steals the show so well, not just with the action sequences, but also with those emotional moments – the scar or the red scarf that hides it elevates the level of her character with the looks itself. She does have a grand introduction too, as that sets the events of the movie going forward in a nice manner. Hugo Weaving plays a powerful villain here, and one has to love his plans regarding the world. Robert Sheehan just got a certain secondary level of job to do in comparison to Hera. Jihae makes some impact with the action scenes. Leila George plays her role in an interesting manner. Meanwhile, you will feel that Stephen Lang’s undead soldier Shrike might be the one character to remember for long.

How it finishes :: Mortal Engines, not to be confused with that terrible Mortal Instruments, will be another interesting visual treat full of action, which you just can’t ignore this weekend. With the other English movie of the weekend being The Possession of Hannah Grace, and Robin Hood already out of the equation, this one should be able to spend some good time out there. It boasts of coming from the makers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and that is more than one reason to be hopeful about this particular flick. There is no doubt that it will provide some nice entertainment, and we can only be glad that a sequel can make this even better. Let us have more movies like this one, even better done. We remember Mad Max: Fury Road, and we know where it can go.

Release date: 7th December 2018 (India); 14th December 2018 (USA)
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Christian Rivers
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, Stephen Lang, Colin Salmon, Mark Mitchinson, Menik Gooneratne, Mark Hadlow, Kee Chan, Sophie Cox, Caren Pistorius

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Total Recall

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What is Total Recall? :: There is always a powerful tendency for remakes in Hollywood, and 2012 had some of the big remakes or reboots in the form of Dredd, The Amazing Spider-Man, John Carter and this one. This year we have Evil Dead, Carrie and Oldboy, while next year has Robocop and The Crow. There are many others which I have missed and more which I might miss. But one of the movie which I didn’t want to miss last year was Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer movie of the same name, one of my all-time favourites indeed. Then about this 1966 short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick on which the movie is based, I don’t know much. What I know is that the 1990 version of movie was far superior to most of the movies of the age, and great innovative science fiction stuff. The Terminator and Predator are the two famous Schwarzenegger movies and two of the most popular science fiction stories, but Total Recall is in many ways one of its kind. With this remake, where does it’s popularity stand?

The Setting :: The story goes to the end of the century when the Earth is mostly destroyed after a series of battles involving chemical and biological warfare and a possible nuclear attack on each other. What is left fit for supporting life is divided into the United Federation of Britain (UFB) and the Colony (Australia) connected by a gravity elevator which travels through the Earth forming the only connection between the two as the rest of the world remains not fit for traffic and this is one of the fastest means. Many residents of the Colony who are poor, travels to UFB for jobs, as their status as well as wealth depends on the same. The people of the Colony are forced into submission by the UFB as they are inferior in technology and lacks in money as well as an army. There is a consistent assertion of such control claiming that the Colony is home to terrorists. The colony inhabitants live in bad conditions compared to the superior world of UFB.

What is it about? :: Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a colony worker married to a beautiful young lady Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but he occasionally dreams about another woman, who would later identified in the movie as Melina (Jessica Biel). But the problem is that he doesn’t know that girl and doesn’t even remember seeing her once. But he is plagued by the dreams which seems to be part of an adventure. One day, he and his best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) visits a facility called Rekall which is a virtual entertainment firm which implants artificial memories in the head of willing people for a price. One can choose to be a secret agent, ruler of an area, lover of many sexiest women alive, a super spy, the richest man on the planet, husband to the most beautiful woman ever known, the strongest man in the whole universe and so on. He asks the salesman, Bob McClane (John Cho) for memories of a secret agent, but it is identified that he already has artificial memories – then police comes in and starts hunting him identifying him as a rebel who is enslaved with false memories, and even his wife joins the hunt.

The defence of Total Recall :: Even as most of the people would not like it as there is no justice done to the original, this movie is still a very good watch. This will not be a classic, but it has great action sequences and very good design and CGI. The world is well detailed and when Kate Beckinsale is around one can rarely feel that there will be a shortage of action sequences. This is from the director the Underworld series – the husband of Kate Beckinsale; when they join forces, the husband-wife team comes up with some of the best action movies, even as there might not be good critical opinion. Doesn’t it remind one of Mila Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson with the Resident Evil series and The Three Musketeers? There are new additions to this movie, and some of them do keep us interested. The gravity elevator and the action around it are brilliant, and there are some good, and the stylish new gadgets and a wonderful creation of two worlds on Earth, along with its quick pace that makes it never boring makes this one worthy for defense.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t make the originial sci-fi classic feel any better. There are no memorable dialogues and has less funny side to it. The movie is also often predictable, and the change of location from Mars to the Colony might not impress a few. Its characters also doesn’t create more of a human effect, as they often move on like robots given a mission. The question would arise if this movie was needed, and one can say that if a movie is remade and can’t match the original or falls behind by quite a distance, there is no need to go for a remake. If this was something new, or they had tried a new science fiction story with a similar theme, it would have worked better. But for now, the fans of the original can only like this in a limited manner, even when there is not that many things which are wrong with this one. There have been talks about a possible sequel, and it can do this movie a lot of good if done properly.

Performers of the Soul :: Colin Farrell does a very good role as the protagonist without memory, with memory, with hidden memory and with an extra dose of memory. Does that make him Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not at all, and there comes tragic fall, but we can’t really blame him for that when he has done his part well – blame the comparisons instead. Kate Beckinsale is simply awesome – from being the lovely wife to the killing machine; she might seem to have the Underworld syndrome, but she is beyond comparison in such roles. Even as Mila Jovovich and Sienna Guillory from Resident Evil got enough sequences to object, there is nobody like Kate in an action role. Once again she makes her entrance in a black costume, a bit less tight compared to what Selene had in the Underworld series, and chases our hero and his girl as if her life depended on it – an out of control psychotic beauty indeed! Her desperation is powerful as well as funny at times, and her dialogues and action keeps the pace high. Jessica Biel pales in comparison, but her beautiful and pretty much cute presence is of pure joy, and her emotional sequences score rather than the fights.

How it finishes :: The biggest change in the storyline should be about the divisions being of UFB and Colony rather than of Earth and Mars. But what might have affected this movie more than anything else would be the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, just like Terminator: Salvation struggled, for it was not a bad movie either. We can do without Mars, but not without the legendary action hero, most of them would say. Even as Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel does better than the characters who did the roles in the original, and Colin Farrell’s performance is strong enough, there is no matching the powerful screen presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But who can step into the shoes of the man? The remake of Conan the Barbarian seemed to give the impression that there is none. I would not consider the flaws mentioned by the critics as big negatives though, and this movie, even as it is not that much of a great remake of the original like Dredd, this has enough inside which could have made people run to the theatres – I know the box-office collection might not seem enough for a movie like this, but the same happened with John Carter and it is just fate.

Release date: 3rd August 2012
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy, Steve Byers

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Elysium

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So here comes the movie which I have been waiting for, since the day it released in the United States, and then again starting another big wait from the day in released in the United Kingdom. This was also the movie I was looking forward to watch in 2013, after Pacific Rim. Other than the presence of Matt Damon, the other interesting thing about this movie was what was told in the brief summary associated with it, and surely that name. The name was quite familiar in relation to some of the stories related to Greek mythology which I had come across during my childhood. Yes, that varied vision of paradise had left a mark, and here is that name revisited through this movie, not as what comes after afterlife, but all the same which are enjoyed during this life. The movie is set in 2154, when a group of wealthy people left the Earth after coming to know that their kind had destroyed the planet with greed and lavishness. With all the resources that remained on Earth, they created Elysium, a luxurious space station just outside the planet’s orbit to live a life free of disease and pollution. The lived a life of comfort assisted by robots and superior medical care, while the people of Earth were made to live on a devastated land, policed by robots sent from Elysium and deprived of their rights.

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) is a former criminal on parole working in Armadyne, the same company which built Elysium. But he is exposed to lethal radiation during an accident and is left with just five days to live. All is not well in Elysium either, as Elysian Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a mercenary on her payroll, Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to shoot down civilian shuttles full of illegal immigrants trying to make it to the city of their dreams. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) condemns her action on the basis of human rights which leads to a cold war between the two. As Jessica looks forward to having more power and keeping it, makes a deal with Armadyne’s CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner) to create a program that can shut down, reboot and override Elysium’s central computer in order to make her the new President. Carlyle creates the program in his office on Earth, encrypts it and uploads it to his brain so that he could take it back to Elysium for secret deployment. With the help of his friend Julio (Diego Luna), Max seeks help from a skilled smuggler Spider (Wagner Moura) to go to Elysium and get cured, to which Spider asks for Max to steal some information from Carlyle. He agrees, and supported by an enforced exoskeleton, he goes on a mission which could change the life of a lot of people.

Coming from Neill Blomkamp who gave us District 9, this movie is somewhat a let-down, and it struggles to keep its standard as high as that wonderful flick. Still, it is certain that the base of both of these movies are the same, and both deals with somewhat the same issue, which is the difference between the oppressor and the oppressed, the privileged and the under-privileged, the powerful and the subaltern. The 2009 movie had aliens coming to Earth and living on the planet only to become second-rate citizens, while our 2013 movie has humans going to a space station and making the rest of their kind second-rate citizens or rather the lesser species – almost the same thing. The protagonist is from the subaltern group this time though. Both are about the horrible divide between people, sometimes about the rich and the poor, and otherwise racial or ethnic in nature. The evil of the multinational corporations as well as the government funded policing of groups which are different in some way or the other, also exists. Elysium makes a good attempt to carry on that idea of divide which formed the skeleton of District 9, and adds more elements of science fiction and powers it using the expensive fuel of post-apocalyptic fiction which sells, and in the process it hurts the inner core.

This is undoubtedly Matt Damon’s movie, and one has to doubt it would have worked this well without him. In the dystopic future where Earth has become nothing more than a big slum of devastated towers and a collection of small ghettos. He plays a former criminal who wishes to go to Elysium so that he could save his own life, but later he transforms into something more, as the saviour of not only his friend’s daughter, but also of millions who can’t afford the riches of the new first world. He is a confused revolutionary and a saviour who doesn’t decide his change, but rather it happens to him. He becomes what the nun who raised him had told him when he was a child – for he became someone special, an act which is supported by flashbacks which works, but not the way the audience might have wanted. This might be his best performance since the first three movies in the Bourne series. The character should have done better with a little more attention to his thoughts and change rather than just making him change as if it was there in him since childhood. Surely, he could have had more to work with, and this movie’s overuse of brain has seriously worked against the character of Max, which could have been drawn from another level.

I am rather surprised that Jodie Foster is not the main villain in the movie, as I thought this was going to be her wonderful performance in the form of another great villain, from what it seemed in the trailer. We wanted that villain, and in the beginning stages of the movie, we also get the feeling that it is how it is going to be. It is a shame that she doesn’t impress at all this time. But there would be Sharlto Copley rather than Jodie in a performance which is quite strange even though good. But this is one character who shouldn’t have had this much screen presence even as the man seems to live in the character and keep it a level above most of the movie. In a movie which is something more than a science fiction, this is not the main villain we want, for this is a more suitable secondary villain character. The need for a more powerful in intellect and yet normal in muscular strength villain was there, and this need is not fulfilled. Its good to see Alice Braga after her last action movie Predators, to which I hope there will be a sequel. She plays the childhood friend of Max, and the one who has a deep impact on him. Despite the smaller screen presence, she makes a very good impact. William Fichtner could have made a great major villain, but his character dies too early for us to get a glimpse of a possible evil. He still symbolizes the corporate evil, the power of the multi-national entities which became inter-planetary entities.

There is action and there is the hidden theme of the lack of humanity and the division between humans. But the action is mostly of inferior quality and the social message is not that powerful as one would expect to. I would consider Oblivion a far better flick intellectually, and District 9 a far more effective movie with its social message. As far as entertainment is considered this won’t be a Star Trek: Into Darkness nor a Prometheus visually. Elysium is another one of those escapist fantasies for sure, but its bridge towards the social message is not that much a perfectly crafted link. Another factor should be that of blood and gore which comes in abundance here, and gets itself an adult certificate with the same, but still doesn’t manage to do it well enough. One has to applaud the visuals though, as the world of Elysium as well as that of Earth are well-detailed, and the robots as well as the flying machines are well-designed and works very fine. The action sequences are lesser, but still not too exaggerated. The movie’s confusion about where it belongs is clearly reflected in all those things which happen throughout its own little world. One has to applaud the idea, but still be confused about its effect on oneself, and how to think about this movie. The emotion couldn’t be felt deep enough, and my friend had recommended a seventy three for this, but I thought I should add a little more to the rating.

While the movie drags a bit, and keeps itself in a loop in which it gently repeats itself, there is still enough in its soul to keep us interested and make a good influence. The only movie of this year to which the action of this movie can be compared is World War Z; yes not to Oblivion which had another post-apocalyptic world with a supposed colony of humans in another place as Earth has gone down due to many forces of destruction (a theory which is proved wrong in a twist of fate which is found later). This drags like World War Z and gets the loop working as the same movie. This could have done with a better route in the script, and Jodie Foster as a different, but still the major villain. It is sad that all the potential had this movie only up-to this level – no, I am still glad to have watched this movie, but this should have been a great work on the screen, but it has missed that opportunity, and that is kind of saddening. May be they could have stuck to one thing in this movie rather than making it a masala social message, or may be there could have been a better balance; I wouldn’t be sure, but let me tell you that I was hoping to come out ready to give an eighty to eighty nine for this movie out of hundred, and seventy seven is a disappoint if we look at it that way.

Release date: 27th September 2013 (India); 21st August 2013 (UK)
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Alice Braga, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Emma Tremblay, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Valentina Giros, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Faran Tahir

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