Thor: Ragnarok

What is the movie about? :: Two years have passed after the Battle of Sokovia which happened in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has allowed himself to be imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) in his dark lair. The demon warns him about what is to happen to Asgard in the absence of its ruler, Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) after he will be able to combine his crown of fire with the eternal flame that burns beneath the city. The prophecy about Ragnarok which was to be the terrible fate of Asgard in the twilight of the gods, seems to be getting close to becoming true, and Thor fights him to prevent the same. After defeating him and taking his crown, Thor believes that he has prevented Ragnarok only to find his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) on the throne, taking the form of Odin, after feigning his own demise. Getting his statues built, and having theatre performances about his own heroic sacrifice, Loki’s fun ends with Thor’s demand to find their father.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: With the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), they find Odin in Norway, only to be notified about what is to happen next, with his first-born, the Goddess of Death, Hela (Cate Blanchett) returning from exile following his weakening and death. The powerful warrior goddess who had conquered the nine realms with Odin, was imprisoned and her tales of battle erased after her ambition grew rather too high. As they come across each other, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer, and leaves the two brothers outside the bridge between the two realms to die as if in a void, but they end up on a planet called Sakaar. Meanwhile, Hela who has arrived in Asgard destroys everyone who stands against her, including the military. After appointing the demoted Asgardian Skurge (Karl Urban) as her executioner, and with her army revived from the tombs, her plan is to begin again from where Odin decided to stop the bloodshed, and conquer more realms.

And what else is to come? :: Hela and her newly recruited undead army are temporarily stopped though, by Heimdall (Idris Elba) who takes away the sword that controls the passage to the other realms. Meanwhile, Thor is captured by Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), who takes him to Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who rules the planet, and conducts a competition of gladiators in a grand arena where he has his own champion who he expects to win every time. After agreeing to participating in the competition, Thor is surprised to find that it is his old friend, the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) whom he has to fight. So, the question remains if he can find his freedom by winning the battle against his Avengers team-mate, or get the same done in some other way. With Hela continuing her hunt for the missing Asgardians who might have blocked her way to conquest of all realms, it seems that time is running out.

The defence of Thor: Ragnarok :: There is no shortage of fun in this third movie about the god of lightning – the action is too good, with those stylish sequences which are supported by some wonderful music; then there are the jokes, which are many, and most of them are certain to work without any trouble. We have been missing both Thor and the Hulk, and their absence in Captain America: Civil War was noticed a lot more than one would have thought. The arena battle between Thor and Hulk is among the best of battles, and so is the final battle which is powered by lightning and all things of wonder. The use of Norse mythology can never get any better, and this is surely one of those movies in which gets the eminence back to Marvel, rising over the challenge which Wonder Woman had created, and continuing the humour-action entertainment that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had brought earlier this year with ease.

Positives and negatives :: One can find it easy to claim that Thor: Ragnarok is never really serious, as even with those problems which can cause extinction and end of worlds, there is humour coming in so often. There is no serious feeling about terror coming all the way here, and the possible death and destruction won’t make anyone too scared or disappointed – it can’t be related with the lack of moral side though. The dark humour is more suitable for Iron Man considering his bourgeoisie scientist attitude which makes him the millionaire which Batman would never want to be – The Dark Knight would surely choose “Iron Man sucks” as his password, like in The Lego Batman Movie if they were part of the same universe. The action could have focused a lot more on the villain, as she has the power to do a lot more every time. Unlike what one would have thought, Thor no longer provides that many morality messages like Captain America would have done if he was a God of Thunder, Lightning or Strength, not necessarily the Lord of Moral Science.

Performers of the soul :: Chris Hemsworth has come a long way from being Thor in that first movie, and it is evident in each moment, as we keep identifying him with this role, and vice versa more often. He has a fine combination with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, as the green monster as well as the scientist has been successful in making things better for this movie which is clearly the Thor movie, with Hulk having rather too less in that category. Tom Hiddleston is at his usual best as Loki, while Tessa Thompson gets to have some of the glory too, being a very welcome addition to this franchise – one can’t help noticing a little bit of Michelle Rodriguez in the Resident Evil, Fast and Furious model. Cate Blanchett shines as the unusual female villain that Marvel needed, but one can be sure that Charlize Theron would have been a great option to be the Goddess of Death too. Karl Urban plays a different role in this one, and it is definitely stylish. Idris Elba nicely suits in his character again, and Jeff Goldblum brings more fun.

How it finishes :: This third movie of Thor has so much of what you might have only dreamed about. Following more of the model of Guardians of the Galaxy with the Avengers touch rather than what would have been the usual Thor style, Thor: Ragnarok becomes a treat to watch in more than one level, rising above many other superhero movies, easily establishing its domination over DC as it did with so many movies, as we see them waiting to retaliate with Justice League. As the Norse gods of Asgard can’t skip the Ragnarok, it is also not appropriate for you to decide to miss Thor: Ragnarok – after all, there is more than one prophecy to be fulfilled, and there is also Avengers: Infinity War coming up in 2018, and its untitled sequel in 2019, which are going to be two of the biggest among them all. If you have read about these two movies, you will know how many of our heroes, we are expecting there. It might be the biggest comics based superhero thing of all-time. But for now, this movie is something that all of you would love a lot, no matter whom you choose as your favourite superhero – it is just pure gratification.

Release date: 3rd November 2017
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Benedict Cumberbatch (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Allegiant

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Vampire Owl :: We haven’t really managed to build our own dystopia yet.

Vampire Bat :: But why are you looking for a dystopia when it could be an utopia?

Vampire Owl :: Dystopia is the more stylish thing. Utopia is not something that much interesting for our kind.

Vampire Bat :: It is more due to your choice of movies.

Vampire Owl :: I have been choosing the right movies. You know, dystopia is the dream of every known vampire.

Vampire Bat :: That only proves that you know just a few vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I know more than you think I know. It is why I am the one true Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: Can you not think about the dystopia and watch this movie?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, just like I did for The Hunger Games. But a part of my mind is fixed on dystopia.

Vampire Bat :: Here we go again.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of tea].

What is it about in the first movie? :: The first part of this tale is set in the future, at the city of Chicago with the world being safely restricted inside walls. The society is divided into five factions, each standing for a quality, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were called the Divergents, and had to live a life without hope. Beatrice Prior a.k.a. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is one of them, but after managing to hide that information, she chooses the faction of Dauntless. During her time at the faction, she slows makes her way to the top after seeming like an underdog, and a good number of secrets are revealed in the process. There she destroys the plans of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) looking forward to take over.

How does the story go in the second movie? :: Jeanine Matthews, despite being stopped by Tris, doesn’t back away from her plans as an artifact box with the symbols of all factions is found. She feels the need to open the box, as it is believed to have the messages from the creators of the city. But opening of this particular box can only be done by a very strong Divergent who is able to go through the challenges of all four factions. As expected, Tris is the one to open the box after passing all the tests, and the message calls the Divergents the result of a successful experiment and calls them to return to the humanity that waits outside the walls. Jeanine is murdered, and lots of speculations go on about what awaits them outside the walls, as nobody has an idea about how it all got to the present situation.

So, what is this third movie about? :: The curiosity about what awaits outside the walls catches the interest of many people, but the soldiers under Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts) blocks all the paths that lead outside. The trials for their enemies is conducted by Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), but most of them become just executions. Tris and Four (Theo James) are not that interested in the happenings there, and escapes from inside the walls with Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to find out what is actually outside. There they find out just wastelands coloured red, and even the rain drops feel like drops of blood. But soon, they discover a group of people, who are technologically advanced. Lead by David (Jeff Daniels), they tell a story, but there is that question about how truthful these newfound allies are.

The defence of Allegiant :: One can safely say that this movie is an improvement from its predecessor, Insurgent, even though surely not as good as the first movie, Divergent. Based on the first half of the last book from the Divergent series from Veronica Roth, there is a fine setting for the interesting final movie which is to come. The visuals are pretty much interesting, and the world surely looks good. The action sequences get better here, and story is also an improvement from its predecessor which had spent too much time around a box. This one also has a rather positive progress of things, and comes to a happy finish even though that would have surely seen near impossible at some point. The lead actors are solid, and the romance between the leads is also something that works. The message is also on the positive side, and there should be something to take home for many.

Claws of flaw :: There is trouble in the acting department here and there, and not all special effects are that interesting to the eye. There are parts of this world which could have looked better in another way, and a number of dialogues could have also been better constructed in a more serious manner. This is also nothing like The Hunger Games which has actually proven to be the better dystopian flick with almost every book and movie. There are times when we feel that this one shouldn’t have been split into two movies, as there was better scope to be further rich in content here. There was surely the chance to be real “divergent” for this movie, but that is not really utilized, with situations going predictable on many occasions, and the tension being built not that much used to the advantage – a well-known path is followed more than any other in this case.

How it finishes :: This one does manages to keep one interested with its world, and the incidents that keep happening. The three people who make the biggest impact here though, are Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Naomi Watts. With the idea already there, and with this dystopian setting so well used in other movie, this one could have done even better; but with what all it possesses, it does make a pretty good watch. This is the kind of world which has the ability to get interested in it again and again, even though you have said no to the same thing earlier. We can only wait and see how well this one has finished to set path for the final movie in the series, as The Divergent Series: Ascendant, is to be released on June 9, 2017. With lesser box-office collections for this movie, lets see how things turn out for the final one.

Release date: 18th March 2016
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Nadia Hilker, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Ashley Judd, Bill Skarsgård, Daniel Dae Kim, Mekhi Phifer, Xander Berkeley, Jonny Weston, Keiynan Lonsdale, Anna Stevenson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Transporter IV

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Vampire Owl: There is no Jason Statham in this movie. You have called me to watch the wrong Transporter here. There is even too much hair on the head of the protagonist. It is not fair.

Vampire Bat: May be! But they have still used him on some of the posters as a psychological move to attract more viewers.

Vampire Owl: I will still look for him throughout the movie. Then I will be sure that he is not there at all.

Vampire Bat: Lets consider this as an action movie with someone who is not Jason Statham, rather than as a Transporter movie. It should help you a lot.

[Gets the tickets].

✠ This was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/1079-the-transporter-refueled-movie-review.html

The Transporter franchise is not among the lesser known ones, because all three movies of the series were successful and with Jason Statham in the lead, have managed to be the action thriller franchise which could set the bar high. The audience has identified this franchise as well as its protagonist as something related to Jason Statham, and he is the one name that comes to everyone’s mind when there is any mention of this series. But this one comes up with Ed Skrein in the lead as the new Transporter, and so there is the question of being successful in catching the interest of the fans. It has been quite a big doubt, and we will clearly know more as the movie is at the theatres already.

Somewhere in France, a former soldier who is working as a Transporter with his own rules gets in trouble as he is caught between four women looking for revenge and a mafia boss who had ruined the women’s lives. Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) thought that this was going to be just another job as the Transporter, but it was never going to be. With his father Frank Martin Sr. (Ray Stevenson) kidnapped, and both girls with the guns and the criminals all around him, he has to make a big choice, and it certainly has to be about choosing a side. But whichever side he would choose, there will be blood and dead bodies lying all around.

The Transporter: Refueled never goes below a certain level, but the question still remains if this entry in the movie franchise was really needed. The audience had three movies already, and they have enjoyed it so much that they can’t really think about another person other than Jason Statham in this particular role. Ed Skrein does make a good Transporter, and we can be sure about that, but he is still no Jason Statham who has been exceptional in that particular role, and could successfully make people say that he is the one true Transporter. Ed Skrein with more hair than a Transporter has ever had, manages to be another good version, but just not as big as the original.

The action sequences remain the strength of this movie, but there was the need for more considering the fact that this was going to be needing the power to match up to a franchise which had the power of Jason Statham. This one also has the power of action, but could have used even more, mostly related to the Transporter job progress. Beyond being the Transporter, this movie has more action sequences, and Ed Skrein nails them very well. There is actually a lot less number of scenes with our protagonist doing the Transporter job, as he is at most times being the son to his father and otherwise helping the damsels in distress or causing distress to some very evil men.

The damsels turning femme fatale are good here, but other than Loan Chabanol, the rest just goes along without adding too much. Tatiana Pajkovic does have the second position in the same, even though it is mostly about Loan Chabanol playing Anna and also developing certain interest with the protagonist. The shots of Europe are very nice, and do inspire one to travel yet again. Noémie Lenoir who plays the lady villain has only a few things to do, and none of them really makes much of an impact. Actually, the fact remains that none of the villains leave that much of a mark in this movie centered on the protagonist and the ladies.

The focus never really goes anywhere else except for moving towards the protagonist’s father. Ray Stevenson as Frank Martin Sr. has some nice lines here adding to the fun, but most of the times, this one is a strange character. There are times when one has to wonder if he actually exists mainly to get kidnapped multiple times and make the protagonist keeping returning to save the father who might be his only real friend. It makes one feel that this was more like a test dose of Transporter which just comes before the possible sequels. Ed Skrein himself might have been a test, and the one who was there for one season in Game of Thrones can have a longer and better run as the Transporter depending on how this one turns out to be.

Once again the battle between the good and evil, the black and white goes on here, and the Transporter becomes the key. He is the difference maker in this world inside the cinematic universe which is otherwise more favourable to the wrong side. The story-line is there without trying too much, as this is another case of having a chance at revenge against the powerful evil. It is still well presented and used in such a way as to keep the audience interested. The Transporter: Refueled is a short movie which stands just above one and half hours, and that makes sure that the movie never gets boring. Something always keeps happening as the movie goes on with its action and thrills.

Release date: 4th September 2015
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Camille Delamarre
Starring: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatjana Pajković, Wenxia Yu, Radivoje Bukvić, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Anatole Taubman, Noémie Lenoir

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Insurgent

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A Flashback to Divergent :: I have noticed a number of people in the theatre being clueless about this, and therefore, lets take a flashback ride to the first movie. You can choose to skip this paragraph if you needn’t. In Divergent, within a future post-apocalyptic world of dysopian nature, the known human society is divided into five different factions according to the qualities of each person: they are Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the intelligent). There are tests done for the same and those who don’t fit into the factions or the Divergents are left with no part in the society. But one young lady called Beatrice Prior will join Dauntless despite being a Divergent, and will go on to stop the faction Erudite and its leader Jeanine Matthews’ attempt to take over as the leader of them all.

What is it about? :: Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) continues her hunt for power, as she finds an artifact box with the symbols of all factions. She needs to open it as the box is believed to have a message from the founders of the city, and she hopes that it can solve the problems of the Divergents restoring the remaining factions with her as the leader. But only a strong Divergent can open it as the procedure involves going through the simulation which includes the challenges of all the factions. Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) are on the run, but Jeanine’s team reaches them – they separate as Tris and Four leave for Candor after going through the Factionless which is lead by Four’s mother Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts). But things surely seem to be heading for a war.

The defence of The Divergent Series: Insurgent :: The idea has already been set, and so Insurgent has it easy to work with. The detail of the environment is very good, and it is good to watch he dystopian world in 3D. The special effects never cease to catch our attention in this movie. The action sequences remain interesting, and the audience only end up asking for more of the same. The idea of being Divergent is taken to another level, and there is twist at the ending which leaves us hoping for more in the sequel – hope the next movie delivers a lot more. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1 will get released next year and The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 2 in 2017, and lets hope that this works very well as there seems to be something big coming, as the impression has been made.

The Claws of Flaw :: Insurgent is a step backward from Divergent, and it is not divergent in its treatment of the subject. It doesn’t go on to establish itself as a special dystopian movie as we had expected with the ending of the first movie. The first one had established the world, but this one actually has almost nothing related to a dystopia which is provided directly and we are left to pick up a few things here and there. The message is not that powerful here with the divergence and the society. Instead, this movie tries to hold on to predictability and last minute escapes. The movie should have dared to go outside what it has established and could have brought more here. Instead, the movie manages to go on and on with the idea that we already have. There is no real attempt to change the society in a big way other than trying to bring the dictator down. Divergents are also just declared special!

Performers of the soul :: It can be safely said that it is Shailene Woodley who saves this movie from going further down its level. She has given her best here, carrying this movie forward as the Divergent protagonist. She has only made things better here, and she is the one who provides this movie with any opportunity to match up-to its predecessor even though Insurgent doesn’t end up doing so. Among the new additions to the movie, Naomi Watts stays ahead of the others, as is very much convincing and interesting. Theo James just manages to be okay playing the support. Ansel Elgort has a forgettable outing there as the strange brother character. Kate Winslet manages to be just an okay villain while Miles Teller is very good here.

Soul exploration :: Just like its predecessor, this movie also focuses on what it takes to be different or divergent, and focuses on the journey that occurs due to not agreeing to the norms of the society. In a world where moving away from the accepted norms of the society is a crime, one heroine continues to rise. This divergence leads to revolution and a change of order. Identities change here, and being smart comes with the extreme desire to rule over the others, which the intelligent faction in the movie displays. They are the masters of science and cannot stand someone else who is better than them, just like the Divergents who are good in more than one skill, and from their jealousy, the movie moves forward to the next level.

How it finishes :: The movie is based on the book of the same name, which is the second book in the much talked about Divergent trilogy written by Veronica Roth, even though the fans here seems to be lesser in number. The first one was an interesting movie itself, and the second one nicely follows the path which was set up by its prequel without doing anything special, which makes Divergent the better movie without doubt. This actually became the first Hollywood movie I watched this month, and may be the only one of its kind which I managed to review. Yes, my movie watching adventures have been decreasing, thanks to the censor board banning movies, and some of them not even making all the way here. There are also personal reasons, but I am going to find time for the same here and there as long as the bans and the selections of movies by the theatres make more sense.

Release date: 20th March 2015
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoë Kravitz, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Mekhi Phifer, Ashley Judd, Daniel Dae Kim, Keiynan Lonsdale, Suki Waterhouse, Rosa Salazar, Emjay Anthony, Janet McTeer, Jonny Weston

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Divergent

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Dystopia, the weakness :: The more relevant opinions should say that the weakness that haunts the world is more related to vampire romance, something which completely destroys the purpose of existence of vampires, no wonder Louis de Pointe du Lac felt that his life was pointless, and Anne Rice might have had a good idea what was to come next when she sat down to write Interview With the Vampire and all those works which followed in The Vampire Chronicles. Now, dystopia has risen to a level which is close to the vampire romance, and thanks to The Hunger Games, the scope for such fiction is proved immense; one has to agree that even Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and its movie adaptation had an extended feeling of dystopia enforced by the aliens. My first idea of dystopia came from Stephen King’s The Running Man which I read long ago, and that 1987 movie of the same name, Arnold Schwarzenegger and María Conchita Alonso. A dystopian America sells quite well. Even mindless movies like Escape from New York worked very well (questioned only by its own sequel Escape from L.A.) and now we know what a safe territory is, even safer than some vampire romance which can coin the terms like “still a better love story than Twilight“.

What is it about? :: The story is set in a future Chicago as the world has transformed into a dystopia inside walls. The society has been divided into five factions with five different qualities, Abnegation (selfless), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (fearless). The factionless were to live a hopeless life. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) has grown up in Abnegation with her parents and brother, and it was the faction that run the government. Its selflessness was proven by their work in taking care of the poor, the sick and the factionless. To the surprise and sadness of their parents, her brother chooses Erudite and she chooses Dauntless, even as she does know that she is a “divergent” who has different qualities and such a person is considered a threat to the current social order in the dystopia. Christina (Zoë Kravitz) and Al (Christian Madsen), two former Candors, and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), a former Erudite joins her friends group as she struggles to go on with an environment with which she is not familiar. She starts off at the bottom of the list threatened to be thrown out, but slowly begins to make her way up with the help of the instructor Four (Theo James). Soon, there will be more secrets to be unveiled though.

The defence of Divergent :: Another world awaits you in Divergent, a world which you are not unaware of, but it is still a world which you will enjoy once again – it is that kind of a world which gathers a dimension for just curiosity itself and thrives on it like Count Dracula on drop of blood. In the beginning itself, they show a huge fence, seemingly electrical along with skyscrapers which seems to have survived some Armageddon which ravished a lot of the known world. Its themes are many and its world nicely detailed with some nice effects added here and there. The post-apocalyptic city is really nice, with a train running through the centre and buildings connected with some kind of mechanical technology. The action sequences are nice and realistic, and the final combat scenes are well done. There is melee combat as well as shooting, and a lot more during the time of training for the fearless ones. The idea of the divergent among the factions is nicely developed out of something which we are all familiar with – the rebellion in the dystopia. The leap of faith moment and the initiation in style are two things I loved more than the rest.

The claws of flaw :: This movie is quite a lot like The Hunger Games, and explores a similar setting with a dystopia and training of young people to be capable for violence and if possible, inflict death upon the enemies. There is no deathmatch here, but there is that capture the flag (Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena fans check!). Being alienated is becoming far too common a thing these days as corruption in politics, the worst of such thing inflicted upon us by Kristen Stewart’s Isabella Swann. The movie’s faction choosing ceremony reminds us of the four houses of Harry Potter, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff. Remember the choosing of jobs in City of Ember? That should be another memory slowly coming out forced by the incident. The movie could have tried something innovative to have its own identity which would look entirely different from the rest. But taking the safe path was going to be more suitable for the first movie of a possible trilogy with a possible extensions due to divisions. But one can be sure that all the flaws of the whole franchise might be lesser than those from just one half of any movie of the Twilight series, especially the latter ones. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones did come with more flaws, but that was pure nonsense.

Performers of the Soul :: There was the awesome Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, and one might not be able to place anyone else in her place with a similar setting around. But Shailene Woodley is very close, and she is so good as the character that one feels almost of the same feeling for Beatrice Prior that was felt for Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire. Shailene has almost everything that the Twilight heroine lacked, and she makes sure that Beatrice is never out of control. She fits into that world right from the beginning and gives us one of the best female protagonists in a dystopia. She has great moments and wonderful lines in a movie which depends so much on her performance and she delivers. She is not just the cute face right there. It is sad that Kate Winslet had so less to do in a role which was about being a mastermind villain from the faction of intelligence. The same can be said about Maggie Q who is just there to be there! Ashley Judd’s existence itself is her presence in the movie. Theo James does his role nicely, and finishes strong as the trainer and the lover. I will leave special mention for Zoë Kravitz as Christina who looked and acted wonderfully throughout the movie.

Soul exploration :: The movie has a lot of themes being explored in it, both directly and indirectly in its world. The whole division into four factions according their qualities and job is more like the ancient caste system itself, but lets not go further into that. In the case of factions, there are people who think different and has the ability to go against this order which forms the core of this dystopia – they are the divergents, to be better known as the rebels. As such a world is lead by the sympathetic faction, one can only wonder how long before two others, the brains and the muscle power can take over. So we need the divergents. What about our current society? Don’t we need them as a dystopia always threaten to happen in one place or the other? Haven’t such “different” people contributed a lot more to the world than the normal ones? When I was in school, I was to expect to join one of the two factions, engineering and medicine, with the two hidden faction, commerce and management – where did I join? Well, I had to diverge, and that had to be dauntless. That was just an example, but lets choose to be different rather than fit into groups with difficulty. Lets just not take the violence in the movie with it.

How it finishes :: Based on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, the movie present us with another dystopian world to ponder over. Even as I haven’t read any work by her, this does seem to work quite well. Being the opposite of utopia, dystopia always had the power to keep the readers and viewers interested. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin told us the story of a world which is slave to logic and machines, completely against any kind of creativity. George Orwell gave us more in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World might be the title which comes to the mind of most people. Remember Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange too. There are lots of such novels which has explored the themes related to dystopia in a powerful way. Divergent takes a leap into the same, but not exactly in the same way. I don’t know about the book, but the movie does fine as it throws at the audience everything it got. The visual media has been nicely used for the same purpose. It released here late, and as this is a festival season full of regional movies, the movie won’t do that well here, and the shows are limited too – quite the bad time of the year to release this one here!

PS: Don’t read the name as “Detergent” because one of my friends did! 😀

Release date: 11th April 2014 (India); 21st March 2014 (US)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Maggie Q

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thor II

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***The first three paragraphs have details of a few Indian superhero movies; skip if you are not interested – I had to say this before the review as it was something I owed to real movies and true movie fans; I was asked to write about a ridiculous Hindi movie, not something I am ready for. Well, as I begin here, I dedicate this review to all of my friends who suffered with a painful poison which was sent into the theatres of India packed inside a horrible catastrophe which is commonly called Krrish 3. There were too many of them to be named here, and I am glad that most of my friends are sensible ones. But that was more of a movie for Hritik Roshan fans and little kids which is the only reason it could be forgiven despite of copying from too many Hollywood movies and adding horrible melodrama and pathetic graphics to it. From my friends and the internet, I could collect the names of a number of movies from which it copied. X-Men, Man of Steel, The Avengers, Iron Man and The Matrix are the major ones. Toad, Mystique, Sabretooth, Professor X – Magneto Hybrid they are all there; and Jean Grey you are always there! Okay, do copy; I have known a good number of nice copied movies in Hindi, but this kind of copying is absurd. Why lift from this many movies and why even copy when you have so much scope for great ideas right in our nation!

Now the others, who will never be my friends – the ones who liked this movie, and coming up with the typical lie that “they at least they tried” – to be frank, they didn’t try; they copied and instead of concentrating on what is Indian, and on the values and traditions that the nation has, they concentrated on style, glamour and pathetic graphics, to make it interesting for no sensible person. Don’t try what you can’t do right and show off your weaknesses, stick to the strengths instead! These people who come up with such pathetic excuses of “trying” for a third movie of a cent percent copied series, don’t deserve to be talked to. Please don’t like a movie just because your favourite actor is in there or the characters talk your language or as it is from your state or nation, but look at the merits. Ever heard about a romantic comedy in Malayalam called Amen? See how CGI is used to perfection in that low budget movie which could have done fine without it, but it contributed immensely and really well. May be the movie makers could learn from Shaktimaan, India’s only real superhero who is rooted in its rich traditions and teaches something good to its citizens and children. There was actually a lot original about it, even as it is not a flawless or a pure innovation. It was a great thing for its age, but Krrish 3 is outdated for this age just like its two predecessors which copied from E.T. and Superman. Please, my dear movie makers, stop making bad movies just because you need to make a lot of money – you owe something to the viewers, or come up with a notice “stupid, retarded movie”.

Krrish 3 has succeeded though, with high scores at the box-office, and it shows our inability to accept the good and reject the bad, and I have decided to skip all the Hritik Roshan movies until there is redemption. I actually had enough of him with that horrible Agneepath itself, and it is a shame that the talent is wasted. His first movie, Kaho Naa Pyar Hai will always be his best. Even as some of my friends said that Shaktimaan was better, the rest told me about the stories in some of the Malayalam books for children, Balarama, Poombaatta and Balamangalam were better. There were a few superheroes there – two of them were monkeys, one of them a little devil and another a rat. All of these were better superheroes in heart and also in the brain. My question is about why people go for movies which has trailers like this one? This movie is a curse on the Indian movie industry and I shall not watch such nonsense even for bashing it. I shall stick to those movies which doesn’t bring shame when there is a lot of potential for greatness. See innovation in the form of Go Goa Gone and Madras Cafe. They could have made a good innovative sequel to Krrish, but they spoiled it, and congratulations to all who are making it a blockbuster, and thanks to the paid reviews. Just don’t copy from Thor for Krrish 4 – it is a humble request.***

So we know that why the world is going to end and why my hope in humanity is fading. Now lets leave the movie of kids and fans which came to existence to destroy good movies. Lets get to the movie which has become my second favourite Marvel movie ever, and also become my favourite superhero movie of the year 2013. Yes, lets back to this wonderful sequel of Thor which has restored our hope in superhero movies. Let me deal with the first question that comes to the mind of any viewer. Is it better than its predecessor? The answer is surely yes. There is a lot about this movie which does a great job in fitting not only into the Norse mythology, but also into the Marvel universe. There is a lot of great graphics and special effects which beautify this movie which is a treat to watch in 3D even as the 3D possibilities could have been developed even further. Its visual beauty is comparable to not many movies. There is a little more needed from the story-line too, but not much. There is a good flow of the plot, and there is nothing lost, and Thor: The Dark World is a real good addition to the Marvel cinematic universe. The only good Avenger hero movie I like better would be Captain America: The First Avenger.

The story beings with talks about the legendary story of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the leader of the Dark Elves who are on a mission to destroy the world with a weapon known as the Aether, but were defeated by Odin (Anthony Hopkins)’s father, Bor. But our leader and a group of Dark Elves escape from their home world of Svartalfheim, and knowing not about the same, Bor hides the weapon deep in an unknown world. During the present day, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned for his crimes on humans, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is on a mission to restore peace in the nine realms with his friends, and is haunted by the memories of the one human he loved, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Meanwhile, Jane makes attempts to contact Thor and in the process, gets teleported to another world where Aether was hidden, and is infected with the same. Seeing the trouble, Thor takes her to Asgard, but doesn’t succeed in taking the thing out of her as it defends itself and the story of Aether and Dark Elves were too long forgotten too.

The Dark Elves come to know about it and attacks the city both from inside and outside in an effort to get to Jane and get their dark material. They end up killing Thor’s mother, Frigga (Rene Russo) and escape before help arrives. Asgard is left without its shields, most of its soldiers and a good number of turrets after the surprise attack by the Dark Elves who used brutal dark energy as well as stealth as their weapons. But striken by grief over the death of his wife, Odin decides to wait for the Darl Elves at Asgard and strike with all he got and fight until death. But seeing the devastation of their capital city, Thor decides to take the attack to the Dark Elves with the help of Loki who also agrees in order to avenge their mother. They decide to take Jane with them and get rid of the Aether, even as Odin had completely prohibited it and it would be treason. It is obvious that the Dark Elves would also target Earth, and as Jane found signs of it in London, it would surely be there. Can Thor and Loki work together to save more than one world or will the trickster take his own side? Now there are some good surprises in wait right there. The talks about them not being gods, and still living five thousand years is interesting.

Chris Hemsworth saves the day again as Thor, as if he is custom made for that role. We love this character, and we see the man again in good form after that great performance in Rush. Natalie Portman contributes significantly, and I would wonder if I can resist any of her movies. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is as good as ever, but needed more screentime. Anthony Hopkins is good as usual, and Jaimie Alexander could have had more to do. I have to say that I loved the comic releief Kat Dennings and her intern provided when Loki is not around. Christopher Eccleston’s villain is also a wonderful pure evil creature, who will come to our minds, every time we play a computer game involving mythical creatures and races. I used to choose Dark Elves in most of them. Another thing I loved was the way they showed the hypocrisy of the people who had chosen not to believe the man who spoke the truth – it is true, for science has indeed become the modern man’s superstition, and we will be force fed by many things which are supposed to have proven, but are actually not. Actually, what all are really experimented and proven, is something that common man will never know. They will tell us that they landed on Moon, Mars and everything, and we will just believe them because scientists are the new kings and clergy of the medieval ages, and the only thing we will know for sure is that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Release date: 8th November 2013
Running time: 112 minutes
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

G.I. Joe II

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There are only a few things which bring people back to their childhood on a magic carpet made of collective unconciousness and the dreams one carry over to adulthood on the clouds of absolute wonder. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was in no way a failure in doing the same, but with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it has come closer to being one of those few things. The first one had all the uninteresting characters who tried to be smart, with the exception of Storm Shadow and The Baroness. The second one would surely be more interesting even as the total improvement is just too slight to be considered improved. There is nothing extraordinary in the movie, but the way in which they have treated the ordinary is significant. Here, one can see the power of the old G.I. Joe toys which forms the essence to every kid who has grown up now, living their childhood through these toys. This is the hidden strength of powerful memories which lie beneath the movie and seeks to be called upon from the abyss. From the seemingly ordinary world of the grown ups, this one takes the life of the adult back to the past and then back to the future with its power of the “toy” characterization which is more of a powerful raising of the toylines.

It would not be a big surprise for many fans if it is said that The Rock/Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock runs the show around here. The Rock has always been coming back with power. With him, is the hero of the movie Die Hard, which makes this movie caught between a rock and hard place – that place which is hard enough to die. The role of Bruce Willis is smaller, but still very important and effective in the movie. He still gets to hold many guns and shoot enough people to make an impact. Meanwhile, The Rock is the leader, after the death of Duke (Channing Tatum) – that moment of dead Joes which calls for retaliation over the retaliation of the Cobras over the Joes. The Rock remains the WWE Champion and here also he reigns in what he does the best. He is the new addition to the list and he has done so much to his character which makes Roadblock the undisputed leader and the champion of all the Joes of this movie. His character has made his intentions clear right from the beginning, and remains the nearly unstoppable character till the end, still not deprived of the chance to be beaten up and almost getting killed; without that there would have been no fun inside him. He is also the one who gets to have the final touch in saving the world from total disaster and a Cobra commander with that wonderful destruction plan.

Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow should come next, and not Snake Eyes or Flint. He is that character without whom nothing is possible; there would be an eternal void in the lives of both sides also himself – on this occasion, that absence would cause more disaster to the Joes rather than the Cobras. He was undoubtedly pure evil in the first movie, something which I would have questioned without even a single proof. The question of good and evil is twisted in this sequel, and the roles would become more complicated with a few revelations. He is still not a person to be the right part of the Cobras nor the integral part of the Joes. His truth lies somewhere in between, which is not that comprehensible to both sides. For this time, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) figure it out more than the rest as they are all driven by the same motive, the quest for revenge and the need for finishing off what they started. The battle between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow which looked good enough to continue until eternity would come to an end here, not with one of them dead, and surely not with both dead. Still, the revenge belongs to Storm Shadow, my favourite right from the childhood, and that is something I would be glad to remember.

Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye, has more to do other than being the love interest of Flint and being the attractive one whose beauty supports the missions in a less significant manner. She is the tough person, the shooter who shoots – well, what else should the shooter do is a question pretty relevant, but she is the accurate one around here; and may be even tougher than most of the Joes out there. She finds out that someone is impersonating the President and also uses her beauty and charms for moving themselves closer towards the ultimate destination – in that casem she scores on two occasions. Still, she is no femme fatale. Yet, her speciality is mentioned as Covert Operations in the toy series. The way in which this character has eclipsed the weaker Scarlett from the previous movie is a powerful sign of what to be expected of a possible sequel. For now, there is no suitable replacement for this one.

Flint is more or less Duke himself, or may be the new Duke with a new girl friend who is taller and stronger. It was actually not possible to see the difference in the beginning. Snake Eyes remains the same, faceless and not that interesting a character, even as there is always a certain amount of hype surrounding him. The addition of Jinx to his team might have given the character of Snake Eyes, a chance to be a little more interesting, but not too much. Jinx is never a weak character, but pales in comparison to Lady Jaye, but both are of a better status than Scarlett of the first movie. Ray Stevenson as Firefly makes that powerful impact right from his entrance though, on that bike of destruction which would make the Ghost Rider proud. It should be the most stylish moment of the movie, as long as some shots of The Rock and Adrianne Palicki can be considered a little short and not of style, but of brutality and beauty respectively. He continues to be the one perfect villain any hero wishes to fight, until he gets to face Roadblock for a second time. Still, could have had more character development.

The story continues where the first movie had finished, even as there is no mention of a number of characters from that one – Zartan has impersonated the American President and the G.I. Joes are framed for stealing warheads from Pakistan and are almost exterminated, before Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye manages to survive and make their way back to the United States from their mission in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Storm Shadow and Firefly rescue the Cobra Commander from the maximum security prison. Snake Eyes and Jinx successfully capture Storm Shadow while recovering from his injuries so that he can answer for the murder of his uncle. But Storm Shadow reveals that Zartan is the murderer and he was only a victim of the situation. The three join forces with the Joes in a final attempt to stop Zartan from his attempt on total domination with the help of the Cobra Commander. He invites the world leaders to a summit where he forces them to submit to him by destroying London and threatening to cause further destruction. Once again, it is upto the same people to save the day, and this time, it is going to be a little more fun.

G.I. Joe is many things at once, other than being a movie and also close enough to being a video game – and the most powerful of them all is nostalgia. I had my first contact with the G.I. Joe action figures when I was in the Primary School, and that was the reign of Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander and a few others whom I might fail to name now, but will still remain the earliest of the best choices. This movie has provided a return, and with its superior action sequences and okay 3D scenes, there is a peek into the past which not only brings back the action figures, but also the world that I missed. It is a well-made time machine which can make its way to the past if directed in the right way. It is something which generates more subjectivity in a grown up kid than most of the other things. The more significant question might be if it takes anything back to that world along with bringing something into the present – these questions make G.I. Joe immortal in the mortality, and closer to the adult world of total uncertainty.

Release date: 28th March 2013 (USA); 29th March 2013 (India)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki, Lee Byung-hun, D.J. Cotrona, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Arnold Vosloo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.