Silent Hill II

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This is the time for flashback, to a few months ago. This is the time when the thirst for horror has reached its zenith. This movie series itself is a legend in quenching this thirst, as it comes up with that horror which is so difficult to fathom as a simple horror fan. The movie is not just an enigma, for it gives everything away; but the problem is about what we take in. I have to admit that I am at loss; for none of the horror movies came here this year; guess they can’t take the terror from Hollywood, and it must be so beyond them. Did the good horror die a painful death? The answer would be no, as I would try to resurrect this one out of my mind and have that vision of horror which the critics never liked, but I enjoyed without that sceptical mind. There will be no bones scattered and no blood spilled in the review; there would be the horror of returning to the Silent Hill that will be horrifying enough. There will be pain and suffering, for this dimension is not for the faint-hearted. Well, one just doesn’t go to Silent Hill on vacation and come back refreshed with a heart full of immense happiness and pleasure, so as if there was the chance to dance with the daffodils. They can still flash upon that inward eye and fill the world with fear; for nightmares of the night are outdated and those of the day take over.

Welcome to Silent Hill. Welcome to the fictional foggy American town of Silent Hill far beyond the reach of the electronic equipments, and its dark alternate dimension. There is the original world and the Otherworld, both separated by nothing but time. The Silent Hill has a cult, “The Order” which does ritual human sacrifices and awaits the rise of their diety, something which could be equated with the anti-christ. But the concepts of good and evil are inversed in this Otherworld of Silent Hill, and they would stop at nothing to bring the goodness that is pure evil upon Earth. They have their priestess and the good amount of blind followers. Their attempt to create the pseudo-paradise on Earth will unleash the inferno, or the original hell on the planet. It shall be the beginning of the end. Considering such a background which is firmly based on a highly successful video game, people tend to expect more, which would lead to disappointment. But as long as this one is considered, what it does is performing its duty to its genre and scare as much as possible; its scary elements remain strong, and may be it works even better than its predecessor. Everything else will slowly come into terms as the base is still strong, even as the influence is less.

Continuing from where the first part had left off, Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) has managed to save her daughter from Silent Hill, even though she gets caught in that dimension. She made the choice so that the girl as well as her world would be safe from whatever evil lurks inside the foggy dimension of the abandoned town. But the horrors of the alternate dimension hasn’t left Sharon Da Silva (Adelaide Clemens) who is currently living as Heather Mason with her adoptive father Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) in another town, as they go on changing places every now and then making sure that the people from the cult of Silent Hill won’t find her. But she is plagued by consistent hallucinations and nightmares, and she even feels the shift from this world to the other. She still believes that they are on the move because her father killed a man in self-defense and the police are seeking him. She is also made to believe that her adoptive mother Rose had died in a car crash. Now, as time has passed and she has grown older, the cult has increased the frequency of their search for her.

Heather fails to belong to the class or the school where she studies, and successfully becomes a complete outsider right from the beginning itself with a speech warning the other students against befriending her. She is approached by a private investigator named Douglas Cartland (Martin Donovan) who explains to her that he was hired by the Order to find Heather, but has decided to help her as he come to know some disturbing information about his clients. He also tells her that she is not what she thinks she is, and the life she is living is more of a lie than anything else. Heather is curious, but before he tells more about it, a fierce demon from the other world, the Missionary, kills Douglas, and Heather becomes a suspect to his murder as all the clues point to her. She finds that her father is missing, and at home, she finds a message instructing her to go to Silent Hill. She learns the truth about the place by reading a letter from her father, and decides to go to Silent Hill to rescue him even as the letter prohibited her from going anywhere near the foggy town.

Her classmate Vincent (Kit Harington) who helps her throughout reveals that he is the son of the cult’s leader Claudia Wolf (Carrie-Anne Moss), and was there to convince her to willingly come to Silent Hill, as it would really work if she is forced to be there. But he changes his mind and wants her to survive and therefore he tries to stop her in her attempts to rescue her father. He further tells her that Heather is actually a part of Alessa Gillespie, a girl who was burnt thirty eight years ago by the same cult but never died, leading her to create the town’s shifting dimensions. Heather is the manifestation of Alessa’s remaining innocence and goodness, as the other side knows only pain and suffering inflicted upon herself as well as the others of the town. A quick shift to the Otherworld occurs unexpectedly, and Vincent is dragged away by the same demon, Missionary. Heather enters the other dimension to find her dad as well as Leonard along with knowing more about herself. This is where the next level of horror begins.

I have believed in Silent Hill as much as I had in Resident Evil, as a computer game. The latter had been with me till Resident Evil 4 and has been my favourite video game adaptation so far along with Hitman and Tomb Raider, and the former is more of memories, mostly of Silent Hill 3 which was similar enough to this movie title. For me, this genre of fear was mostly about Undying, the first graphically good enough horror game which I had played. Well, these three games together make such an impact which nothing else can; the horror is possibly better than most of the horror movies around. The world of gaming has almost ended for me, even as there is a little dose of Age of Empires, Age of Wonders and Unreal Tournament at times – who can forget the classics, right? I would wait for the release of the games based on Need For Speed, Deus Ex, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed though, for they have memories of the other dimension, that reality where I spent a good amount of my life. There is another parallel world, that of computer games, and some games like Silent Hill got another reality inside its reality; sounds complicated enough. But the question would be about which reality being the most evil of them all, and the present human world qualifies for a race to that position.

For a movie made more for maximum horror than anything else, this one has done a very good job. If you are looking for ambiguities, come with a big truck as there might be a huge load of them. Well, it works on parallel universe or alternative reality. When a video game based horror movie deals with the self-contained separate reality which co-exists, there is always going to be loose-ends. Even the first half had its own collection of ambiguities, some which has carried over to this sequel. We can still consider the Silent Hill as that alternate reality which always co-exists, as a place for those belonging to the evil, for they are there even without themselves knowing. For them, it should be the original place and where they live should be their Silent Hill where they do not belong; a place which scares them with the goodness. But considering where the world is going, there is going to be the same reality here and there. There will be two Silent Hills and the choice would create more ambiguities. Still, this alternate reality helps one to live another life, something different, but all the online world which creates a second life can turn into another Silent Hill all of a sudden. It is always about faith which keeps the Silent Hills away, or without evil.

Release date: 26th October 2012
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Michael J. Bassett
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kit Harington, Deborah Kara Unger, Martin Donovan, Malcolm McDowell, Radha Mitchell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Olympus Has Fallen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.