The Green Knight

Vampire Owl: I have read about this particular tale during my graduation.

Vampire Bat: It has not been surprising that all vampires learn BA English Language and Literature, and most probably, also its post graduation.

Vampire Owl: Well, vampires do learn more than they need.

Vampire Bat: Yes, almost all the undead has double post graduation.

Vampire Owl: This film still comes as a surprise though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we were not expecting any more of such movies on Amazon soon.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and with one of those tales from our British Literary History studies.

Vampire Bat: That makes the world feel quite small.

Vampire Owl: Well, you know that is never large enough for a demonic invasion.

Vampire Bat: In that case, there is not enough for the eaters of multiple realms.

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

What is the movie about? :: The setting is in Camelot, the castle and court of the legendary King Arthur (Sean Harris), who has now turned old, and hopes that someone else could take over his place, someone worthy enough, even though there are many knights of the roundtable who could hold that position to take over the country. It was a long time ago that he taken the sword Excalibur out of stone, and claimed his throne with the help of one great sorcerer – but things are not the same again, as there is a certain amount of darkness that had engulfed the country, which seems to continue through the Christmas season which had just started, as the power of the king is at the all-time low. The king’s nephew, Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) have been leading a life of no knight, even though he is supposed to become one very soon. He goes through all the hedonistic activities as he can, and wakes up in a brothel alongside a common woman whom he fell in love with, despite having royal blood running through his veins.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Gawain gets the scolding from his mother due to the same reason, but on one Christmas day, he attends the feast at the great round table of the knights with King Arthur, who gives him a better status, as he is the son of his sister, and a possible choice for the throne at some point of time. It is then that a strange creature in armour, riding a horse comes into the court and talks of a game. Calling itself the Green Knight, the creature tells him that any knight in the court can land a blow on his body and win his green axe, but the same person will have to come to the Green Chapel on the very next Christmas dar, and he will have to receive the exact same kind of blow in return. When the fight begins, the Green Knight gives up, and Gawain comes with a blow so hard that it severs the knight’s head. Then the knight rises and leaves with his severed head, after reminding him of the deal.

And what more is to be done with this adventure related to one green knight? :: Gawain spends the rest of the year merry-making with his common woman love, Essel (Alicia Vikander), but his mother Morgan le Fay (Sarita Choudhury) knows that he has to keep his end of the bargain and face the Green Knight at some point. So, finally when the next year’s Christmas season arrive, he starts his journey towards what seems to be his destiny. During his journey, he comes across a battlefield with dead bodies everywhere, and is ambushed by a group of people who ties him up and steals anything on him that seems valuable. But Gawain manages to get free and go after them. But random robbers on the road won’t be the major problems that he will have to face during this quest. This quest is woven out of magic, and it won’t end like a usual adventure ends for a knight who comes up with random acts of courage and honour. After all, these are the times when knights are always supposed to do better than earlier.

The defence of The Green Knight :: The movie maintains its dark elements really well instead of turning this into a light fantasy as one would expect as far as King Arthur and the related stories are concerned. The dark atmosphere does help in transporting us to an uncertain world of mystery rather than the usual space of certain heroes and villains placed on opposite sides. The setting, especially the landscape is incredibly beautiful, and the same can be said about the buildings around too, as the feeling of a medieval world is nicely recreated – the touch of magic can also be felt in between. One wouldn’t agree if there is a talk about this world not being filled with magic. The background music also adds a lot to this particular world. It had to be so, as any tale related to King Arthur has that feeling in the background. The film works as the coming of age story of a knight, which is nicely portrayed by Dev Patel in what might be among his best roles till now. The rest of the characters are just the path for him towards the final destination.

The claws of flaw :: The Green Knight, as it moves away from the usual fantasy adventure with a knight trying to meet his destiny, the darker side is added, and the same might not be what people might be looking for. The film also drags in between, as we have a certain time period in which nothing much happens, and the same could have been trimmed to make this film shorter. One can feel that there are too many dialogues here, and some of them seem to be pointless – they could have been replaced by some more of action, which is rather difficult to come by in the middle stages. The final moments are also not that strong as one would have expected in the beginning stages. The messages here could have also been clearer, and some elements of coming of age might have looked better if used in a more innovative manner. The opportunities to add more to the tale and expand the same have been many, and here we see no strengthening additions.

How it finishes :: Making a film out of a chivalric romance work of unknown authorship, written in the late fourteenth century, and make it suitable for this age is no easy task, as the same is not a huge adventure with big monsters that appeal to the big screen and the masses. I do remember reading about this work as part of my studies as well as the later teaching process at the college. Well, British Literary History is quite fascinating, and these are some of the earlier works which we go through in the syllabus after that Anglo-Saxon literature being looked at. So, this work is more or less like nostalgia for me. Even if the question papers in this part of the world do not really ask any question related to this one, we are all aware of the tale’s worth, and the same has been reasserted with this film, that seems to have done justice with the original thing. This is certainly not your usual fantasy adventure, and as long as you can look past the same, this will work really well for you.

Release date: 24th September 2021 (Amazon), 27th August 20201 (India)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: David Lowery
Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Erin Kellyman, Barry Keoghan, Atheena Frizzell, Nita Mishra, Tara McDonagh, Helena Browne, Megan Tiernan, Emmet O’Brien

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous English film review here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Vampire Owl: I know this person, for I remember this name, but just can’t figure out from when and where.

Vampire Bat: Do you need to go through a memory recovery programme? It is a new method.

Vampire Owl: I know what Doctor Frankenstein does with his new series of programmes. So, let me figure it out myself.

Vampire Bat: It is a simple name, but certainly not common. You should have remembered the person if there was a chance.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I should have at least remembered the two strings.

Vampire Bat: Are you sure that you don’t need at least a memory vial?

Vampire Owl: Don’t ask me to have those chemicals made of dark matter.

Vampire Bat: Then, what would you need instead, to remember?

Vampire Owl: What about some inner peace?

Vampire Bat: The Kung Fu Panda has taken all of the same, after taking the form of the Vampire Panda.

[Gets three cups of ginger tea with a piece of ghee cake].

What is the movie about? :: Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a one-eyed young boy who spends his time in a cave near a colourful village. Living with his ill mother Sariatu (Charlize Theron), he makes a living with art of paper folding known as origami, and music with a three-stringed, Japanese musical instrument known as shamisen, both which he uses to tell the tales of a samurai warrior who is supposed to be his father. They just manage to survive, with his mother’s mental state getting worse, and they having just enough to make a living. But Sariatu keeps warning him about her twin sisters Karasu and Washi (Rooney Mara), as well as her father, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) who would take his other eye, as they had killed her husband, the samurai warrior of the tales of bravery, Hanzo (Matthew McConaughey). She forbids him from going out at night, in the moonlight.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: One day, Kameyo (Brenda Vaccaro), an old widow who loves Kubo like her grandchild, tells him about a festival which occurs at night, that involves people talking to their loved ones who had died. So, for a change, Kubo decides to stay through the darkness, and try to find the soul of his dead father, and know more of the story about them. But even with the other villagers seemingly having success over talking to the souls of their beloved, he seems to have no success at all. As he forgets to return home before the sunset, he is found by Sariatu’s evil twin sisters, who waste no time in asking him for his one remaining eye. The realisation is also upon Sariatu though, as she is quick to appear and save the boy, sending him away, while trying to go on a final battle with her sisters who will stop at nothing to get their nephew’s one remaining eye.

And what follows the same in the movie? :: Kubo wakes up later, in a land far away, with only a snow monkey to give him company, which is the last piece of his mother’s magic, and has promised to keep the boy alive at any cost. They go on hoping to find Hanzo’s armour which becomes necessary for their survival as they face a force as strong and hateful as the Moon King. On the way, they also meet a beetle in human form, which believes that it used to be a follower of Hanzo, and had fought many battles with him, even as nothing remains of those memories. But the evil twin sisters are already on their trail, and even after finding the Sword Unbreakable, they are still at a disadvantage against the strongest forces of their world. There is a long way to go, there is danger ahead – can Kubo and his two strange friends be brave and strong enough to face the threat?

The defence of Kubo and the Two Strings :: This one certainly has the story that will appeal to people of all ages. There is the tale of courage, faith, hope and belief which runs right through this movie. The sadness in the movie is beautiful, and the evil twin sisters make some nice villains in the moonlight. There are battles which will remind us that we miss Kung Fu Panda, and all main characters remain lovable, and kids are going to love the Monkey and the Beetle without doubt. There is also that variety in this world, and the visuals make another path, which is also nothing less than beautiful in its own way. There is the quest in the centre of all these, and we have one boy’s tale of courage that will keep things moving. There is also the strength of love, and the ultimate power of memories that humans hold on to, which become significant in the story of Kubo too. As you go deep, this is another animated movie which is not just for kids. There is also some humour here and there, but it is mostly for kids.

The claws of flaw :: The animation doesn’t stand a chance when compared to the other big animated movies like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, Inside Out, Epic and the rest who have made the effect of a spectacle, and Kubo and the Two Strings never even tries to do the same. The tale of the relatives and creatives seems rather too comfortable with how they end up becoming what they are. We are not much interested in the tales with monkey and beetles as warriors in a human world these days, as the turtles had found it the hard way in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its sequel. There is also that same programme, with everyone coming together and everything being brought together by the end, and there is something rather too comfortable around here. It can also be considered a little too dark for the liking of some people. Even with those strange twists, the movie is also very much predictable within its own tale, as the missing and gaining of parents doesn’t make one feel that much in such a darker animated flick – could have been more imaginative.

How it finishes :: Kubo and the Two Strings could have actually been better, with all the possibilities it has with the myth already there – not just with the story, but also with the rest of the elements, all making this a bigger visual experience. There is a lesson or two which this movie can take from Rise of the Guardians which looks similar with its characters, but is a better movie than this. We usually expect to connect to the main character more, and not as just a random kid who is special because his parents made the choice of a strange union. The movie seems to be more sincere to itself rather than its audience, and even the message sometimes feel strange – it tends to happen when there are talking monkeys and beetles who gets more importance than humans in a tale of a human child. But the importance of relationships with fellow human beings, memories, family and love are those things that come over the rest, it could be the main reason that won the flick, BAFTA for Best Animated Film and why it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, which eventually went to Zootopia.

PS: Have you watched The Mummy, Wonder Woman and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, yet at the theatres?

Release date: 19th August 2016
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Travis Knight
Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, Meyrick Murphy, Minae Noji, Alpha Takahashi, Laura Miro, Ken Takemoto

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Moana

Vampire Owl: I have heard that the name Moana means ocean.

Vampire Bat: This movie is all about ocean.

Vampire Owl: I have even heard that Moana is a Polynesian sea god.

Vampire Bat: What do you know about sea gods?

Vampire Owl: They do not interest me. I am no person of the sea.

Vampire Bat: But we will watch this Oscar nominated movie.

Vampire Owl: Yes, this is also for The Rock. I am looking forward to what he is cooking again.

Vampire Bat: He cooks really well, as we have seen in Hercules and The Fast and the Furious series.

Vampire Owl: Lets see if this one is worth the Vampire Oscars.

Vampire Bat: I am already prepared to nominate this one.

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

What is the movie about? :: The famous demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) steals the heart of the island goddess Te Fiti, which seems to be the key to all life. But he is attacked on the way by a lava demon Te Ka, resulting in him losing his magical fish hook which gives him his powers, and the same also leaves him stranded at an unknown location. This is how the legend goes, and for the Polynesian island of Motunui, this is a common tale that the children are told. They are also forbidden from going beyond a certain point into the sea. Tui (Temuera Morrison), the chief of the island has the opinion that the island has all that they need, and that they should stick to the land. Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of the chief is someone who really wants to explore, but she is also prevented from doing the same.

So, what happens next? :: Soon, the food becomes scarce, as the landscape seems to be dying. There is almost no good fruit to eat, and not much of fish to be caught. Still, sailing beyond the reef remains an act prevented from happening. But Moana’s grandmother Tala (Rachel House), who is supposed to be just a crazy old woman, leads her to a secret cave which shows them that they used to be explorers who traveled through the sea to find new islands. After Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti, the journeys had stopped though, with monsters wandering around the ocean. With Te Ka’s lava and ashes spreading through the islands, there is only one hope – to get the heart to where it really belongs, with the help of Maui. Can she find and persuade the demigod in time to save the islands from the darkness that is spreading?

The defence of Moana :: The big advantage of this movie is that how well it connects and works for both children and the adults. It is the main characters that steal the show in this movie too, with Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson creating the big impact – the latter is a lot funny, closely followed only by the pet that gets into the boat with Moana. The bond between the two leading characters is emotional as well as cute, as you will notice right from the first time they meet. Moana is surely one or more steps ahead of the other animated characters of the same type. The movie nicely uses the Polynesian myth, and it is great to see more and more gods who are parts of different culture, especially those rather unknown. The songs are interesting, just like the simple heroine who keeps making an impact along with her partner in sailing. All the characters and the world look really nice.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing that is entirely new about its tale though, and with its source in the myth, we see the heroine who goes beyond the limitations that are imposed on her. The movie could have also used its beautiful world to an even better effect – we know that we love this world, and it is certain that we need more of it. After all, the scope is limitless with a world full of islands awaiting exploration. The message could have also been even more direct, with the wander lust and the need for adventure to be getting a better spot over mythology. The twist about the demon doesn’t go on to be that effective either. This one doesn’t have that much of flaws to make the viewer wonder, and there is nothing much to complain related to this adventure!

Soul exploration :: The movie’s main message is to search for the unknown, explore, and find new places. Moana goes through faith, belief and hope, and the courage and determination that is required to keep them all there. There is no longer the need for the heroine to chase love, and without romance, the focus is on all adventure and the clear objective that is to be gained for the common good. With sea making the call, and caught up on an island, there is always the need to go out there, and to be with the rest of the world. There are dangers that stay ahead, but it is up to us to go far beyond all of them with the strength that is gained from the experience that is added on the way. We are all caught with one thing or the other, and it seems so difficult in this world with the restrictions and the so called duties that come to us at one point or the other, but we need to go on.

How it finishes :: There is one thing that we can be sure about, after watching Moana. It is that the flick is surely better than the eventual winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature after being a tough contendor – Zootopia. I guess that the judgment went in favour of the cuter one this time; animals get to win over humans. I would consider this one to be better than the last two years’ winners Inside Out and Big Hero 6. The best animated movies of the year rarely get to be the best in the academy awards section, do they? There are only a few exceptions like Frozen. Toy Story 3 won when there was How to Train Your Dragon; Rango won when there was Kung Fu Panda 2; Big Hero 6 won when How to Train Your Dragon 2 was existing; Brave won when Rise of the Guardians was there. Well, Moana also has its list of accolades received – lets try watching it again and again!

Release date: 23rd November 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Oscar Kightley, Troy Polamalu, Puanani Cravalho

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.