Child’s Play

Vampire Owl: Do you remember Chucky?

Vampire Bat: How can we not remember Chucky? He was the coolest scary doll until Annabelle came into the picture.

Vampire Owl: Annabelle could never be that creepy, as the spirit is not always creepy enough.

Vampire Bat: Well, he has been an inspiration for vampire dolls too.

Vampire Owl: They say that this time we have a reboot and not a sequel.

Vampire Bat: That is not natural. Usually, the come up with more and more sequels as if this is something eternal.

Vampire Owl: This one also got Artificial Intelligence.

Vampire Bat: Yes, what is a doll without AI during these days of science and technology?

Vampire Owl: That would make it a robot.

Vampire Bat: A robotic doll which would replace all, maybe.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kaslan Corporation has a new type of high tech dolls called Buddi, which are designed to be long time companions to kids, learning their interests and what happens around, and then acting accordingly. These dolls become huge hit among the children, as parents find them to be substitute for other children and pets – the dolls are also supposed to be flawless, passing a large number of tests, and not reporting a faulty piece anywhere. With factories for manufacturing and assembling all over the world, one of them in Vietnam, has its safety protocols manipulated and disabled, just before one of the fired workers finish his final Buddi doll. After doing the same as an act of vengeance, the worker commits suicide, but the doll is packed among the other dolls and sent to the United States of America to meet the rising need for the models.

So, what happens with the events here? :: In the city of Chicago, a retail clerk and single mother Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) and her son, Andy Barclay (Gabriel Bateman), movies into a new apartment, where latter struggles to make friends. To help Andy move away from his continuous staring at mobile and television, and to take his attention away from her newfound boyfriend Shane (David Lewis) who is with her most of the time, Karen blackmails her boss to get a faulty Buddi doll which was returned to them, as a new version of the doll was ready to hit the markets. The doll which does seem to have some problems with its working procedure, calls itself Chucky (Mark Hamill) and is instantly attached to Andy, whom he considers to be his best friend, and a pal forever. Due to interest in Chucky, two kids in the building also becomes friends with him, Falyn (Beatrice Kitsos) and Pugg (Ty Consiglio).

And what else follows with the happenings? :: But Chucky doesn’t seem to be the usual Buddi doll, as it develops violent tendencies from the horror movie it watches with the kids, and almost stabs them mimicking what happens on the screen. It strangles Andy’s pet cat which had scratched Andy, and scares Shane for making him happy. Chucky is one possessive doll that doesn’t like anyone other than him to be too much attached to him. Andy and his newfound friends make the other neighbouring kids like Omar (Marlon Kazadi) unhappy. Meanwhile, Andy also becomes friends with other neighbours Detective Mike Norris (Brian Tyree Henry) and his mother Doreen Norris (Carlease Burke) to whom he gives advice on new technology. But this increase in the number of friends is not something that pleases Chucky, as he is the one who is supposed to be the best friend forever – for that to happen, he would do more.

The defence of Child’s Play :: There are some nice scary and even more creepy scenes in this movie, as the doll becomes more of a threat than it had ever been in the past, with Artificial Intelligence threatening to do more. There is also the presence of blood and gore, especially related to the killing, and the final fight scene has more of it, with a lot of dead bodies involved with chaos being unleashed by the doll. The new generation who has not watched the original will like it even better. In the age of Annabelle doll with a spiritual presence, Chucky does more with Artificial Intelligence and catches our attention in style. Aubrey Plaza as the mother leads the way here with the performance, followed by Gabriel Bateman and the other kids, mainly Beatrice Kitsos. In between, Brian Tyree Henry also has a fine role done well.

The claws of flaw :: The fans of original movie and its early sequels might not like to stick to this one with a different look and also a divergent tale about its origins. The violence brought forward here might not make some people feel happy either. There are garden tillers and chainsaws in action here with the soon-to-be dead people not getting any close to a deviant respect either. The movie also ends too soon, as there is less happenings after the doll goes rogue – we should have certainly had more of them. Child’s Play is a franchise which was always destined for more greatness than it ever had. We can hope for the same greatness to be achieved in the possible sequels. We know that there is always more ideas coming up as far as horror is concerned, and with the slasher elements added, it is yet to be seen how much this can accomplish.

How it finishes :: The original version of Child’s Play was about a serial killer performing a Haitian Vodou spell to transfer his soul into a Good Guy doll. This one changes the storyline to match the current situation, as Artificial Intelligence becomes the key. Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky have been some very interesting movies in the franchise, and so a reboot here was supposed to arrive at some point. The variation that this movie had brought might not feel good for people who wanted to keep the original idea alive, but one has to agree that this one also brings a lot of scary and creepy moments to remember. It can even stand as a stand-alone film without the help of the previous movies – a claim which not many movie reboots can claim. Well, horror here can have many more sequels, and they can strive to be even better with this particular premise.

Release date: 21st June 2019
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Lars Klevberg
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Mark Hamill, Beatrice Kitsos, Ty Consiglio, Tim Matheson, David Lewis, Marlon Kazadi, Carlease Burke, Nicole Anthony, Trent Redekop

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Mummy

Vampire Owl: It seems that finally the mummy has scope to be a real mummy.

Vampire Bat: What are you referring to, here?

Vampire Owl: Usually in the movies, the mummies are men, and so the mummy is usually a daddy.

Vampire Bat: And you are talking like a dummy, for which there is no need.

Vampire Owl: No, you should see the mummy lady in this one. She is cooler than most of the known mummies.

Vampire Bat: You know one mummy which is cooler. You just can’t pronounce his name.

Vampire Owl: Yes, why don’t they have simple names like Count Dracula?

Vampire Bat: Well, mummies are from very ancient Egypt, and going so long back, such names had to exist.

Vampire Owl: I am going to call them Mummy A to Mummy Z.

Vampire Bat: Yes, please do it, as long as they don’t hear the same.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and special popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: In ancient Egypt, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is an expert in almost everything, and is undoubtedly the best warrior, and the next in line for becoming the Pharoah of the lands. The Pharaoh, Menehptre (Selva Rasalingam) also sees his successor in her, strong, courageous and one who doesn’t give up. Things are all going smooth until the Pharoah has a son with a newer, younger wife, which angers her as she realises that all her work has been for nothing, with this young child taking over the kingdom as the Pharaoh of Egypt when he grows up. Frustrated with the situation, she decides to take the throne in one way or the other. Knowing that she can’t do it by himself against the extremely powerful Pharaoh, chooses to worship Set, the god of evil, chaos and war. This particular god who had even killed his own brother Osiris helps her in return for unleashing himself on Earth – but, after killing her father, his wife and the baby boy, she is captured by the guards and mummified.

So, what happens next? :: With the princess mummified, and buried in a land far away, the curse of Set remains, as the promise to him in unleashing the god was not kept. Years later, somewhere in the present Iraq, Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his best friend Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) spend their time looking to gather what all antiques they can get from the area of the nation called Mesopotamia, which used to be the cradle of civilisation while having their own trouble with the locals as well as the terrorist organisations operating from there. It is during these times when they accidentally uncover a tomb, which seems to be Egyptian, much to the surprise of the archaeologist, Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) who also lands there as part of her excavations. With the approval of Colonel Greenway (Courtney B. Vance), she goes into the tomb supported by Nick and Cris, ending up with a sarcophagus immersed in mercury, which they decide to take home.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Their trip is rather cut short as the flight is attacked by a huge group of crows, and Cris who was bitten by a spider inside the tomb also turns undead, and Nick has to kill him. The plane ends up crashing, and Nick manages to save Jennifer by using the parachute, but he as well as the others in the airplane are assumed to be killed. But Nick ends up waking up in the mortuary, with a vision of an undead Cris, and he also has visions about the princess. He begins having more and more visions of the princess and undead, and goes to the crash site only to escape from the princess and her newly resurrected undead. It is a secret society headed by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russel Crowe) that helps them to escape, and after chaining the princess in such a way that there is no way to get away, explains to Nick that he is the key to her finishing the curse, which why he escaped without a scratch from the plane crash. Well, evil would always find a way, and so does the princess to escape and unleash herself – can anyone stop her in time?

The defence of The Mummy :: The movie does begin strongly, and there is certainly a nice beginning to the tale, with the interesting tale of the power-hungry princess of Egypt told and also with the mummy being unearthed, followed by the plane crash – there are also some nice visuals with everything, and the visual beauty is there throughout this movie no matter where things happen. Tom Cruise does a great job as the protagonist, and Sofia Boutella is amazing as the princess of Egypt returning as the mummy – the censor board seems to have worked very well to cover most of her tattooes; maybe they are against Indian culture more than we think they are, and it is not the movie makers who decide what we can watch, it is the current Chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification in India, after himself getting to watch everything because he can – we saw most of it in the trailer, seriously. Russell Crowe is sadly wasted in his role though, and so is Annabelle Wallis, both having characters going nowhere against a powerful, love-seeking mummy and an even more powerful human Cruise.

The claws of flaw :: There is a certain loss of direction regarding this movie – the same can’t be called as positive divergence, because it just goes on and on, even adding the elements of Jekyll and Hyde, and one has to wonder why it had to be done, when enough material is available from the tales of mummies; people end up wondering if they are going to add the Hulk next. It is as if the idea about making good blockbusters by reboot, is leaving Hollywood. Not sure why decided to bring the mummy from Egypt to Iraq and then to England, with not much of Egypt there in the picture – we would have preferred to see the Pyramids whenever the word mummy was associated, and not like what they did with the third of the mummy movies. It was Dracula who really had to come to England, a vampire, not a mummy. The humour is of no use, and the climax is of no strength, with weak twists, and the final sequence not interesting at all. Also, Tom Cruise’s character gets bigger than the mummy on whom the movie is really supposed to be about, and it is also a creature who can be captured with sharp weapons.

How it finishes :: The Mummy brings the tale of the undead creature from Egypt once again, and this time not exactly in the same path. This certainly won’t prove to be a match for the movie of 1999 and its sequel, The Mummy Returns. This is surely better than The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor though, and one has to wonder if this stands any chance against Wonder Woman, or even the still running Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. It will certainly not bring three sequels and four spin-offs unless there is a big improvement with a sequel. Even though not a bad movie as it has its interesting moments supported by visuals and thrills, the execution is not that much there, which should give it a disadvantage against the movies which released earlier – but with Tom Cruise around, this should do okay at the box-office. After all, it has been a long time since we saw a Mummy movie, and a female Mummy as the main villain brings more variety to the tale. But where we want Tom Cruise more is in movies like Edge of Tomorrow, Mission Impossible, Jack Reacher, Minority Report, Oblivion and many others. Underworld and Resident Evil franchises, despite being in confusion due to too many movies, could combine action and horror better.

Release date: 9th June 2017
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe, Javier Botet, Selva Rasalingam, Dylan Smith, Rez Kempton, Chasty Ballesteros

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fantastic Four

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Vampire Owl :: I will miss Chris Evans and Jessica Alba while watching this new version.

Vampire Bat :: Chris Evans is Captain America. You won’t miss him. If he returns as the Human Torch, you will miss the Captain a lot more and might even make the decision to skip Marvel forever.

Vampire Owl :: I will just miss Jessica Alba then.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is fair, because I miss her too.

[Gets the tickets and cheese popcorn].

✠ This review was recently posted by me at Kiagia.com: http://kiagia.com/index.php/current-film-releases-movie/986-fantastic-four-movie-review.html

Having the history of an unreleased film in 1994 and adding another reboot and a sequel in 2005 and 2007 which had not much critical appreciation, Fantastic Four doesn’t really have history going in its favour. At least, the two movies could come up strong at the box-office. But one has to feel very strange about this new movie which currently has neither the support of the critics or the audience. With the movie clearly underperforming at the United States box-office, it is yet to be seen how it performs in some other territories, as it released on August 21st, the Friday in India.

Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) have been best friends from childhood, and have worked on building a teleporter for a very long time. Reed has been the brain of this idea which was consistently rejected by their science teachers, until Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) finds the ability in him, as he was already working on this same idea. His adopted daughter Susan Storm (Kate Mara) and his own son Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), along with Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) work with Reed on developing a giant teleporter called the Quantum Gate which would connect the human world to another dimension.

They are successful in creating the path to this dimension, but when the head of the facility Allen (Tim Blake Nelson) decides to send a group of astronauts from NASA to explore the new world, the scientists decide to become the first people to reach the new world, just like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the Moon. But as they reach this new dimension, the place is full of strange materials and Victor is absorbed into its source of energy. The rest escape, but four of them undergo big changes. They wake up in government custody, and Reed runs away while others are trained to control their powers. But the connection with the other world won’t cease to exist.

This 2015 version is not as bad as most of the reviews suggest, but it is not that good either. People will surely find the earlier version a lot better than this one. It had many advantages over this one, and the most significant one being the actors. The cast which involved Jessica Alba and Chris Evans was a joy to watch, but the same is not the case here. Except for Jamie Bell as The Thing, nobody really makes a big impact in this version. Kate Mara looks very good in that suit, and has her moments. Michael B. Jordan is no Chris Evans, and Miles Teller is not really there either. Toby Kebbell makes an impact much later, only with the mask on him.

The movie also takes a lot of time to get to the interesting part. The first half is more like a stretch which moves slowly towards the possible destination. It struggles to get to the point right through the beginning to the middle. Even after that, the story is not completely there. The beginning of the second half is that point at which the movie should have reached within half an hour. It would have been okay if the beginning was rather interesting, but it couldn’t manage to be so. This goes different and still it is predictable. The action only happens when the movie is close to the finish, and by the time the origins are established, it has ended.

The movie chooses inter-dimensional travel, which is a bold move and a welcome change, even though it is not that well implemented. The special effects are nice, even though there are limitations. There are not much of the superpowers used to display these effects. Still, the power to entertain is there, and the villain does make a better impact in this avatar which is superior to the 2005 version. The villain looks like a true challenge to the four right from the moment his other side is awakened. This version is also darker, which is a positive change. With the consistent struggles and only having the interesting moments here and there, may be this origins story can bring a better sequel.

This Fantastic Four reboot will have a tough time making an impact considering the fine quality which has been maintained by the superhero movies in the past. Even the earlier two movies featuring Fantastic Four were much ahead of this one. So the expectations were a lot higher here with hope to bring something to remember. This is not really a movie that go terrible, but just something that doesn’t go big enough. It can be considered mostly average, but the situation demanded more. In the end, there is something about which the audience can be sure about; it is the fact that among the Marvel comics based superheroes, this one is clearly a level down.

Release date: 21st August 2015 (India); 7th August 2015 (USA)
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Castellaneta, Tim Heidecker

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.