Night at the Museum III

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A flashback :: Merry Christmas, everyone. The Vampire Bat is back flying in the theatres again. I haven’t watched a movie in the theatre since the eighth of December which had me watching the movie Seconds, and the reasons are specified here at my other, and nowadays the more active blog (http://theteacerebration.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/the-loss-of-power/). The period of eighteen or nineteen days is a long time for me – like a part of an eternity. So on this day of the return to theatre, or most specifically, the multiplex, lets start with the flashback for this third movie of one of my favourite franchises – I am sure that a lot of people from India can use this. This is the story of Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), who has been the night guard for the Museum of Natural History, and it is where history comes alive, or rather the museum exhibits comes to life at night, and all of them show the characteristics of the respective historical person as if this is the same person who had lived and died years or centuries ago. Our protagonist, with his museum friends have saved the day (or night) twice already.

What is it about? :: We go back to the discovery of the tablet of Ahkmenrah in Egypt, and then come back to the present, which has our protagonist working for an event which is lead by Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), and followed by a few of his other favourite exhibits. But there is corrosion in the tablet, and as it gets worse, it affects the exhibits. This leads to the failure of the event, as all of them goes out of control and causes destruction, making the visitors flee in fear. Larry decides to take things seriously, and learns that they should ask for further details from the father Pharaoh who is in the British Museum of Natural History. As Larry makes his way to the museum with the tablet and the son Pharoah and friend Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), a number of other exhibits have also sneaked in to help him and have a share in the adventure. With time running out and everyone getting weaker, can Larry lead his team to the aim, unsure of what has awaken at the new place?

The defence of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb :: Here is your history teacher of the week, or a reminder of the subject. The movie assures you of lots of fun, and a little more knowledge of history – something that India needs desperately, to have its residents know its history and respect its years long culture instead of going for the money machine. You are in no way going to sleep through this history class, and that is a guarantee – not a first for me though, because I have always enjoyed those classes. The Pompeii scene, the inside the picture shots as well as the theatre moments are very nice. There is some fine use of effects too. Rebel Wilson also has some very nice moments which are not to be missed, and Robin Williams continues to touch you as Teddy, with this one last performance. Here is something for the perfect Christmas family weekend, as long as too much thoughts are not there and a heavy judgement is not passed.

Claws of flaw :: This one stays in the shadows of its predecessors, refusing to come out of it and innovate. A lot of it seems recreated from its predecessors. There was actually not much of a need for this movie, as the previous movie had a nice, happily ever after ending to it, and it was something that we could think about and have a certain amount of joy. Instead, here it is forced to an end which is mixed happy, and there is not even a powerful villain – it was what made the second movie the best of the series; it had one great villain and some nice support for him. Instead, we are taken to the “Save tablet” campaign and some jokes fired at us don’t even come close to working. This is also more childish than the previous movies, especially with the new Neanderthal’s relationships and the repetitions. The family drama doesn’t have the power that it needed, even as we do get the father-son problems and message in the end. May be, with the loss of power of tablet, some energy was also lost.

Performers of the soul :: Ben Stiller makes things work and it seems incredibly easy for him as he once again takes over that one memorable night guard. He also has another role which is less impressive, still stupid and funny. The movie also has Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney in one of their last performances, and the former once again has that nice and interesting role of Theodore Roosevelt which he does to perfection. The team of Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan works fine, but not as much as the previous movies. Dan Stevens makes a good beginning, not that much in the final scenes. Rebel Wilson does a very good job, but is restricted by the less amount of time she has on the screen. Mizuo Peck once again does her character making a good impression, and Rami Malek with Patrick Gallagher completes the team. There are moments of almost every character, and the Hugh Jackman + Alice Eve cameo was also nice.

Soul exploration :: I have always loved this franchise, and thought Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the second entry was the best of them all, and this movie doesn’t change that idea. Yes, this could have been better, but the idea is still there, and history is once again alive. The three movies combined is a good history lessons which ends with this one. There have been a certain dislike for movies teaching history, and this seems to come from a few people who were sleeping during their history classes at school all the time. This doesn’t take a straight path as Mr. Peabody and Sherman did with sharing knowledge of history or the bonding between a father and son. But still, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb does a fair job in the same. All the history enthusiasts should make sure that they watch history come alive for the one last time, and for others, lets give something to history along with all the fun and entertainment.

How it finishes :: Along with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Penguins of Madagascar, Exodus: Gods and Kings and Interstellar, this one joins the show as the only Hollywood movie to release on the Christmas day here. One certain advantage that Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb has is that it has the Christmas spirits than any other movie. People might not want to cause further brain damage by watching the Christopher Nolan flick, especially with the family, and Penguins of Madagascar is just another animation movie. The final movie of The Hobbit franchise needs knowledge on that special world, and the Biblical Epic takes its liberties and also makes limited impact on a lot of people. So, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb has a bloody big chance here – light at its heart, but still powerful in its messages and the strong lesson about history. It might not break any records worldwide and might not do well in North America, but has the heart to thrive in this part of the world. You need this movie for Christmas, no matter what other movie has released with a bigger fame.

Release date: 25th December 2014 (India); 19th December 2014 (US).
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Dan Stevens, Ben Kingsley, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson, Skyler Gisondo, Rami Malek, Patrick Gallagher, Mizuo Peck, Dick Van Dyke as Cecil Fredericks, Percy Hynes-White, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Andrea Martin, Rachael Harris, Brennan Elliott, Kerry van der Griend, Matthew Harrison, Jody Racicot, Randy Lee, Darryl Quon, Paul Chih-Ping Cheng , Gerald Wong, Anjali Jay, Matty Finochio, Crystal the Monkey, Hugh Jackman (cameo), Alice Eve (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Need for Speed

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* “Too much gaming details warning” for the first three paragraphs 😛

Games of the soul :: How much value does a movie based on video game have in this world? If we look at movies like Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, that should be zero both for the critics and the box-office, a fate which it never deserved – unlike DOA: Dead or Alive which was expected to have such fate. Then there are the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series which grosses a lot more than the critics see in them. Well, they don’t like my personal video game favourite Hitman, neither do they come close to being interested in Max Payne or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which were actually much better than what we are made to believe about them. If a movie based on a video game is somewhat like that game, can we blame the makers? Isn’t it how the movie is supposed to be? I am looking forward to the upcoming movies based on Mass Effect, Deus Ex, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed. There is going to be a lot more to explore in them, especially the first one I mentioned. I have a feeling that it is that movie which will change the opinion about video game based movies.

NFS reloaded :: My first love for NFS series began with Need for Speed II SE which I came across at a time when I was actually playing more Road Rash than ever. I loved the game and decided not to retreat to the earlier version. I didn’t like Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit any better even as I spent quite a long time in it. Then came Need for Speed: High Stakes which I chose to hate, which made me take a small leap into Midtown Madness but that stayed only for a short time. Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed brought me back though. Then Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 made me realize that I was trailing in graphics card, and I had trouble with the speed of the game. After upgrading my system, I went directly into Need for Speed: Underground which remained my favourite until Need for Speed: Underground 2 made the whole thing awesome, with Brooke Burke around. From that moment, NFS remained my favourite racing game genre, and the stage was set for the greatest racing game I have ever played; Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I loved almost everything about it, and loved being chased by cops towards the beautiful sunset, except the fact that Josie Maran was no Brooke Burke.

The desire for speed :: Need for Speed: Most Wanted had set such a high level of racing game experience which was nearly impossible to overtake. It was one of the most interesting racing challenges ever, and it was that kind of a mission that you always wished to go for, or even more than was in our minds. The next game, Need for Speed: Carbon couldn’t match its predecessor in anything, and I decided to uninstall it soon enough. Need for Speed: ProStreet also came up with nothing special for me. Need for Speed: Undercover was last NFS game I ever played, and that was the end of my NFS life. Due to its alleged similarities with ProStreet, I decided against checking Need for Speed: Shift, and Need for Speed: Nitro was not made for PC which kept it completely out of the equation. Then there was the 2010 version of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed, Need for Speed: The Run, Need for Speed: World and Need for Speed: Rivals, not to forget the 2012 version of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. But I had got rid of my graphics card by then, and the only games left with me now are the older non-racing ones.

What is it about? :: Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a street racer and a mechanic who struggles for money. He is interested in Anita Coleman (Dakota Johnson), but due to his financial condition, that is rather impossible for him as she becomes more and more of a former lover. Still, he is having a pretty good time with his friends, enjoying the little things of happiness. But as one of his friends and Anita’s brother Pete Coleman (Harrison Gilbertson) get killed in an illegal race event involving the three, and the third person disappears without evidence, he is sent to the prison. With the help of Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) and a number of his friends who worked with him in the garage, he decides to take on Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), the man responsible for the death of his friend. But as Dino has announced a bounty on stopping him, and also with so many cops on his tail, the question remains if he can make it to the big race where he intends to defeat, humiliate and expose the lies of his enemy. Even as this one is indeed a big race, it doesn’t remain just another race, as it is personal.

The defence of Need for Speed :: It is nice that they decided against using computer-generated imagery. Aaron Paul is good as the protagonist and he remains solid in his character, but the more impressive one is the charming lady who accompanies him, Imogen Poots who has the best moments of the movie with her, as she seems to bring such beauty and energy into the sequences which is rarely seen, and not to forget the fun – the best lines are there when she is there, and the same is the case of the incidents. One has wonder if she actually stole them with an irresistible charm! I haven’t seen a more lovable performance from any female character in any racing movie before. The cars remains awesome, especially the Ford Mustang which we have all driven in the game. Each actor who plays any of the hero’s friends make sure that none of them lags behind. The villain is without surprises, but manages to be a typical villain of a movie like this. The nostalgia that this movie brings is priceless. As we know which kind of audience will go for this movie, what more can they ask for?

The Claws of flaw :: The one big problem with the movie is that this could have been anything else – a random racing movie rather than being that NFS movie which the fans have been waiting for. There is no real speed in the progress of the movie, especially in the first fourty five minutes or so. It is so slow that one comes to the early conclusion that this is neither fast or furious, and nothing can match Fast & Furious franchise. We can’t deny that after watching this movie. There is almost nothing about it that can make it different from the usual racing movies of the past, and there is no imagination as the game franchise had. The plot is ordinary, concerning the revenge of a former street driver who is sent to jail for the wrong reasons against the man who is responsible for the same. There is not enough car races either. Nobody is going to enjoy this one more than the wonderful games in the super-hit franchise. One might often wonder if this was made due to the need for a movie based on this video game rather than based on the need for some speed. Yes, this movie needs more speed and a better imagination in story.

How it finishes :: Now I only play three games, Age of Empires II: The Conquerers, Age of Wonders III: Shadow Magic and Unreal Tournament, that too once in a blue moon. But Need for Speed is that game which refuses to go out of memory, especially the flare of awesomeness which was Need for Speed: Most Wanted. It was never really just a game for most of us, as it was a wonderful racing life supported by another world which was inside the game. Yes, there were many others which were to become my favourites later, including the big three action-graphics extravaganza; Mass Effect, Oblivion and Prototype, but NFS always belong to a different world, and its strength has been its supporters, as there have been almost no gamer that I have known that have failed to play at least one NFS game with some interest. There is always the Prince of Persia, Hitman, Age of Empires, Unreal Tournamet, Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Resident Evil and such franchises which become the all-time favourites of some people, and then there is Need for Speed which is liked by all who likes the others too. Lets hope the same about this movie.

Release date: 21st March 2014 (India); 14th March 2014 (US)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Scott Waugh
Starring: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Dominic Cooper, Dakota Johnson, Ramón Rodríguez, Michael Keaton, Rami Malek, Michael Keaton, Harrison Gilbertson, Stevie Ray Dallimore

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.